Most Haunted Hospitals in America

St. Elizabeth's in Washington, D.C. (one of many haunted hospitals)
St. Elizabeth's in Washington, D.C. (one of many haunted hospitals) | Source

Are Hospitals Haunted?

Hospitals are among the most haunted places in the world and with good reason. Many traumatic things occur within the walls of a hospital - illness, despair, sadness and even death. Because of these common occurrences, hospitals are probably the most likely places to harbor ghosts and other kinds of hauntings. Spirits of people who die suddenly are sure to linger, as well as the spirits of those who have recently died and have yet to cross over. Another kind of haunting within a hospital is no doubt one of a residual nature, hauntings that play out events that have had a lasting impact on the hospital's energy itself.

Whatever the reason for these hauntings, they exist and can be found in many hospitals all across the United States. In this article, we will learn of just a few of the most haunted hospitals in the U.S.

Ward Retreat 1, Patient with Dementia drew on the walls.
Ward Retreat 1, Patient with Dementia drew on the walls. | Source

St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1855, St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Southeast Washington D.C. was one of D.C.'s first functioning psychiatric hospitals. In fact, it was one of the first established psychiatric hospitals in the country. At its peak, it held about 8,000 psychiatric patients, of whom were said to have been abused and mistreated throughout the years of operation. The Center Building, the oldest portion of the hospital standing today, is said to be the most haunted on the property.

During the Civil War, part of the hospital was used as a medical-surgical unit for wounded soldiers while the other portion still cared for psychiatric patients. If the walls could talk at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, they would have sad and chilling tales to tell. St. Elizabeth's housed mentally ill patients of a nonviolent nature, but also housed some of the very violent nature including a few would-be presidential assassins: John Hinckley Jr., Richard Lawrence and James Garfield's assassin.

It is said that people who work at St. Elizabeth's Hospital experience chilling things even to this day. Odd sounds like crying and moaning, as well as phantom footsteps are the norm particularly in the Center Building on the campus. People have also experienced waves of freezing cold air with no known reason in the Center Building. Tales of ice-pick lobotomies performed at St. Elizabeth's circulate the internet, and may very well have some truth as thousands of brains and other medical specimen preserved in formaldehyde have been found at St. Elizabeth's. There are also stories of unmarked graves and missing bodies at St. Elizabeth's, and a creepy incinerator where some of the people's bodies might have been disposed of. A grisly account of medical history? Yes, it is, but unfortunately these things happened more than we could imagine in the early history of psychiatric care.

So who haunts St. Elizabeth's Hospital in our nation's capital? Is it the Civil War soldiers who lost their lives within the hospital walls? Or perhaps it is dozens of the mentally insane patients who were experimented on and punished by death at the hands of immoral psychiatric doctors in decades past.

WARNING: Today the hospital is still functioning, and it is a private property and in part owned by the government so trespassers will be arrested.

The back of the Waverly Hills Sanitorium building...do you see a ghost in the window?
The back of the Waverly Hills Sanitorium building...do you see a ghost in the window? | Source
Waverly Hills Sanitorium...perhaps the most haunted abandoned hospital in America.
Waverly Hills Sanitorium...perhaps the most haunted abandoned hospital in America. | Source

Waverly Hills Sanitorium

I've written an entire article about the paranormally-infested Sanitorium known as Waverly Hills in Kentucky. In fact, entire novels could be written detailing the horrifying accounts of those who have been brave enough to venture into the dilapidated building. Waverly Hills Sanitorium opened its doors in the early 1900s, decades after the establishment of St. Elizabeth's Hospital; however, the horror to occur within its walls is all-too-comparable to that of St. Elizabeth's.

It began as a regular medical hospital, specifically built to house patients with consumption (today we know it as Tuberculosis). Unfortunately there were so many TB patients who were dying and no advancement in western medicine that the doctors performed various experimental surgeries and procedures. Some all too gruesome to mention here. In direct effect of these experiments, people's deaths were hastened and their ghosts are now thought to be stuck in the corridors of Waverly Hills...stuck between this world and the next.

After the TB patients grew less and less frequent, Waverly Hills Sanitorium turned into a hospital for the mentally ill in the 1960s. And of course you can guess what happens from there...more grisly experiments and lobotomies were performed and people died from such. Because of all of the deaths and sadness that occurred in Waverly Hills Sanitorium throughout the twentieth century it is no doubt there have been dozens upon dozens of ghostly experiences afterward.

More than one paranormal investigation has taken place at Waverly Hills, and it has been featured on ghost hunters television shows for the past few years. It is said that there is a death tunnel in the Sanitorium where dead bodies were transported from one building to the next. If you are to visit the Death Tunnel today, it is pitch black and people say there are multiple evil spirits present that will grab and torment the living. There are two more famous ghosts at Waverly Hills: a little boy ghost and the ghost of Mary. They have been captured in pictures in recent times, and their stories are very sad. Mary has been known to play hide and seek with the ghost hunters, and the little boy is said to bounce a ball in the hallways...spooking all those nearby.

Today Waverly Hills Sanitorium stands...abandoned and alone...or perhaps not so alone?

Old Drawing of Pennsylvania Hospital.
Old Drawing of Pennsylvania Hospital. | Source

Pennsylvania Hospital

Pennsylvania Hospital, also called Penn Medicine, was established in Philadelphia over two-hundred-fifty years ago and was called the nation's first hospital in 1761. Probably the most famous of hauntings in the state of Pennsylvania, this is because there is a statue of William Penn on the grounds that is rumored to come to life on a full moon. Of course the sad history of treatment of the mentally ill also adds to the hair-raising qualities of this property.

Apparently there is a "dry moat" around the hospital that was once used to "exercise" the mentally ill patients. It turned in to some sort of a spectacle and the local townsfolk would come watch this taking place on a daily basis. A wall/fence was built to discourage the people from watching the mentally ill. The Pine Building is said to be extremely haunted...Ben Franklin himself had visited the hospital during his lifetime.

Between the mentally ill being cared for here and the thick history of the place, there are quite a few ghosts and spirits on the premises. You'd have to visit to meet one, though...


I saw a girl's ghost in a hospital hallway.
I saw a girl's ghost in a hospital hallway. | Source

Any Hospital Could Be Haunted...

With all of the pain, suffering and death that occurs in hospitals nation-wide, I wouldn't be surprised if every hospital in America has its own resident ghost. Once I thought I saw a little girl walking down the hallway in a hospital where I worked, only to turn my head and she disappeared. That's enough to give anyone the chills!

© 2015 Author Nicole Canfield

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Comments 20 comments

wildbluefrontier profile image

wildbluefrontier 45 hours ago from Tucson

I guess it's probably unsurprising that long time hospitals would be haunted. Lots of stories over the years from those that work in hospitals. A favorite is when a camp of gypsies stayed over night on a concrete pad which was part of a abandoned military airfield in England. They left hurriedly after one of the men there woke the others and complained of having a nurse wake him up to turn him and tuck him in numerous times during the early evening. Hospitals can have some heavy energy attached to them.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

jponiato - Thank you!


jponiato profile image

jponiato 16 months ago from Mid-Michigan

Fascinating, as always.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

Social thoughts - Thank you so much!


social thoughts profile image

social thoughts 16 months ago from New Jersey

Great article! This is one of my favorite topics. You wrote it with so much emotion!


Miebakagh57 profile image

Miebakagh57 16 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

Hi all, hospitals were not the only places to be haunted. Natural things like trees, rivers, seas, etc are subject to haunting.

This because if a negative soul is troubled there, and that soul dies there, his/her ghost make that place a house.

Unless proper burial rites were done to peace for the soul, the place stay haunted. Even some sections or parts of burial grounds were subjected to haunting from time to time.

That is why all these negative forces in hospitals and other mental institutions occur.

Many thanks to kitty for are good work.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals - True! Thanks for reading.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 16 months ago from Sunny Florida

It's normal and natural for these places to be haunted. After all, sprits haunt where they die. Fascinating article.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

Miebakagh57 - Very true, indeed!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

Thanks, Genna East!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

Sunshine625 - Thank you!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

lucybell - Yes, I could see how that would be crazy terrifying! And I know what you mean when you say the "air was heavy"...you can feel it in your chest, almost.


Miebakagh57 profile image

Miebakagh57 16 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

Hi kitty, thank you. Sounds natural and normal because of the events happening there.

If all the descriptions you made can happen in a particular house, that house will be equally haunted.

Thank you once again.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 16 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

I agree with poetryman...especially about the clowns. (There is nothing scarier than a clown.) Old asylums were magnets for negative energy of the abandoned and abused. It is a tragic, sad history that still walks those halls. Interesting article.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 16 months ago from Orlando, FL

Very, very interesting and quite spooky too!


lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 16 months ago from Troy, N.Y.

Wonderful article. Abandoned hospitals are very scary . I remember many years ago when I was a security guard, and had to fill in for another guard, they sent me to an abandoned hospital, and I did it one night , and never went back again. The air was heavy and sad. The place was a mess. And I felt like eyes were watching me all the time.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

poetryman - LOL...yes clowns can be rather frightening.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 16 months ago

Hospitals are inherently scary and abandoned hospitals are even more so! There is something unsettling about precipitating out to a hospital floor from the elevator and finding first the nurses station and then all the rooms abandoned. The only thing scarier is clowns. Definitely klowns.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 16 months ago from the Ether Author

Phyllis - Thank you so much! We are of a like mind, then. :)


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 16 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi Kittty. Stories of the paranormal always fascinate me, especially the old hospitals. Your article is very interesting and well-written. I enjoyed reading it.

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