By Rick Hinton
Hospitals can be a strange mixture of both hope and despair, and the ongoing sage of the human condition – life and death. Hospitals can also be the last hotel in which one checks into and never checks out. Many times, hospitals retain “remnants” that play havoc on the employees who work there. It quickly becomes a job they didn’t sign up for. Administrative staff and the sisters at the former St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove would never admit to paranormal ramifications while the aged hospital still stood. Regardless, the drama of hospitals in general can be the fuel for a paranormal experience. And St. Francis, it would appear, had this fuel. …
One employee – Ken – had multiple experiences while working in the original section of the old building. On the second-floor surgery wing, he had his clothes and hair frequently pulled as he did rounds. Sometimes it was just a gentle caress. There was, however, an incident when he did panic after being aggressively pushed on the shoulder. He ran! Another was a door slamming in his face as he made his way from surgery to a newer section of the building. Again, he ran!
On the third floor he witnessed a stack of papers fly across the room – lifting one at a time, sequentially. In various locations on this floor he was engulfed in cold spots as the temperature suddenly plummeted. And once while waiting on an elevator Ken windmilled his arms, testing the cold spots surrounding him. A longtime nurse came upon him and simply commented – “Don’t do that; we know they’re here.”
While Ken was on vacation, a girl covering his shift abruptly quit. “People here have had encounters, particularly in the overnight hours,” he stated bluntly. “It’s not something they’re going to bring up to management. They want to keep their job!” On one occasion, when a nurse did bring up the strange occurrences to a Catholic Sister, the sister raised her hand to stop the conversation, declaring, “Just let it be.”
I was born in St. Francis Hospital. I had always desired to visit the maternity ward where I had entered into this world. I finally did. It was no longer a maternity ward, but a restricted area for high-risk patients. Wearing a pair of slacks and a dress shirt, and clutching a clipboard as a prop, I strolled through the ward as if I belonged there. Nurses smiled at me. The tiled walls were the same as they had been in the late 1950s. And somewhere along my journey I’m sure to have passed the very room in where I was born. My stroll down memory lane came to an end and I felt a sense of completion. Afterward, there was a walk through the empty hallways on the basement level, with all roads leading to the morgue, where many had unexpectedly experienced their own sense of completion.
Whatever lingered at the former hospital in Beech Grove appeared willing to interact; possibly it was a mixture of playbacks from the past … of those who have come and gone over the years. Life began for many at St. Francis Hospital, and many took their last journey there. To this day I keep a watchful eye when visiting a hospital. You never know what you may see … especially at night!