I first walked through the doors of this hospital so long ago. The years have passed in a single breath. I spend so much time here, it seems like I never really leave. Patients are rolled in and rolled out. More patients have come and gone, most of them successfully, than I care to count. So many patients use this hospital that they were able to afford a major expansion.
New wings of the building with fancy new machines and operating rooms with the equipment to allow doctors to perform all the advanced new techniques. The new rooms and fancy hallways meant the older wings would be used less and less. Eventually, the hospital bigwigs stopped sending patients down these halls and putting them in these rooms. Janitorial would only send someone to clean the floors as a hazing ritual for new hires. Maintenance would park inoperable gurneys and other pieces of equipment in the vacant halls while they waited for parts or an order for disposal. I was the only one that still regularly walked these hallways and entered these rooms.
I guess I shouldn't say that patients were never put in these unused rooms. Sometimes an intern would mislabel some transfer orders for a comatose patient or a doctor would want to temporarily “relocate” a patient that was healthy but still being difficult. Then they would be put in a room and I would watch over them. I would discuss their condition with them even though they generally were in no condition to hear me. Eventually, the intern's mistake would be uncovered or the doctor's nerves would have settled and someone would come to collect the patient I had carefully watched over. They would be would be returned to the normal, active, upstanding, shiny new areas of the hospital.
Even though it was rare for patients to be placed in the rooms I watched over, I was not alone. Many former patients would greet me in the halls. We would discuss many topics of the day. The weather, the local scholastic and professional sports teams, the latest entertainment releases. Conversations with these friendly souls did wonders to diminish the omnipresent boredom and silence when there were no patients for me to visit during my rounds. When a particularly difficult case would come under my watch, I would sometimes ask one of these former patients to visit and speak with the patient while I continued with my rounds. I will never get a chance to see follow-up reports or read dismissal charts. Because of this, I can't be certain if my efforts have any actual impact or not, but I believe strongly enough that it does good that I will keep on doing it as long as the hospital keeps accepting patients.
****** ****** *******
“Sir, I know you asked me not to report this any more, but it's happening again. We've had patients saying they have heard voices while in the older wings of the hospital.”
An older doctor sighs heavily. His impatience and exhaustion with the topic obvious. “Jensen, we will go over this one more time. The original wing of this hospital is unused and only rarely entered. Any patients that say they hear voices there are experiencing drug induced auditory hallucinations. We've sent out a number of memos requesting that patients no longer be placed in those rooms. If we are still getting reports of voices being heard in that wing, it seems those memos have gone unheeded. It seems we must draft a new one immediately and make sure every one pays attention. We must not let rumors grow that this is a haunted hospital.”
“But sir, these patient stateme.......”
“This is not a haunted hospital! There is no ghost of a doctor that died from a stroke while on his rounds. While patients have died in the long history of this facility, their spirits do not roam the unused halls. The patients that reported these voices were experiencing a side effect of the drugs that had been administered to them. This is the last time we will speak of this. If you mention it again, that will be the last words you utter as an employee of this hospital.”
Have you ever had an odd dream during an illness or while on one medication or another?