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2003-10-21 - 3:14 p.m.

GHOSTIES ABOUND...

Every hospital ward should have a good ghost story to tell the student nurse on her first night shift. It just so happens that Tammen Hall is home to many a good fright. Some people claim to have experienced "something" there. That "something" caused one man to walk off his job one night......and never return.

What could cause a man to quit his job so abruptly? A Tammen Hall security guard did exactly that some 16 years ago, after encountering something on the 7th floor.

The guard was on a routine security patrol at one evening. He stepped off the 7th floor elevator and was gripped by a sudden, sharp chill. Nothing could prepare him for what he saw next: a "foggy entity" that paused to look directly at him, then floated past him and through a wall.

It was reported that when he got back to the security office, he threw down his keys and quit his job. He was considered to be a fairly fearless character but something scared him off for good.

The guard isn't the only one at Tammen to have seen something out of the ordinary. Michelle Hoffman, a medical researcher, claimed that she once saw a "strange woman" standing at the end of the third floor hallway at Tammen Hall, a woman who "wasn't supposed to be there." Within a heartbeat, the woman vanished into thin air. Hoffman said she was pretty certain that she had seen a ghost.

Could Hoffman have seen the young nurse whose spirit is believed by some to reside at Tammen Hall? Supposedly a young nurse met an unfortunate end at the hands of her lover many years ago. He was said to have pushed her down the elevator shaft. Her wedding dress was said to lay on her bed, as the couple was planning to elope before the nurse met her gruesome demise.

Is this the nurse?

All told, Tammen's ghost is a harmless if unsettled spirit, who has crossed paths with only a very few. Meanwhile, there are hospitals, almost all very old or abandoned, and almost always facilities which treat the mentally ill, in the United States and especially England, that are said to be haunted.

A haunting is defined as a "repeated manifestation of strange and inexplicable sensory phenomena at a certain location."

Hauntings occur with no regularity and for no particular reason, lasting a few days or even hundreds of years. Some hauntings may only occur on certain anniversaries, and others still may be totally random.

The widely held belief is that hauntings involve apparitions, or ghosts, of the deceased. In fact, apparitions are seldom seen. Most hauntings involve noises like footsteps, tapping, or a knocking sound, strange smells, sensations like the cold prickling of the skin, cold breezes, and the feeling of being touched by an invisible hand. Other hauntings involve poltergeist-like activity such as solid objects being moved, broken glass, doors that open and close by themselves, and manipulation of lights and electrical devices.

People who visit haunted locations also report a surge of emotions, most commonly anger and fear. Some people report a feeling that they are not alone, that they feel a "presence," or a feel as if they are being "watched." Other places may even involve friendly, or at least harmless, emotions, sentimentality or even deja vu.

One of the most haunted hospitals is said to be St. Agnes Hospital for the Chronically Ill, a mental institution in Connecticut. MTV did a show called "FEAR" in which they put a handful of contestants into a scary setting and dared them to finish horribly scary challenges in order to win a cash prize. One of the locations they used was St. Agnes Hospital.

The hospital has been closed for many years, and is reputed to be a place of immense paranormal activity. Paranormal investigators claim to have observed a high number of "despondent shadowy figures" roaming the empty halls. Unexplained noises and disembodied voices echo through underground tunnels, musty attics, abandoned wards and padded cells. St. Agnes is a place of malevolent spirits, though stories of kindly ghosts abound.

One such ghost is that of a nun who appears to look after the sick at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. Patients who have seen her always report feeling safe and assured under her watchful care.

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