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Abandoned Hospitals: Dare to Enter?

Written by Emily Pazel

 

It’s been said that when a traumatic event happens to someone or something, a special type of energy from that event is released and left behind. This often leaves a lingering presence at that specific location, which results in a chilling story from those who venture near it.

If the dirty, graffiti-covered walls of an abandoned hospital could talk, what would they say? Would it uncover a dark history that once took place inside the halls? We will take you through three different abandoned hospitals and the unforgiving history behind them.

 

Linda Vista Hospital

Los Angeles, California

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Photo by: Downtowngirl

 

Established in 1904, the Linda Vista Hospital was first created as the Santa Fe Coastlines Hospital, which was a prospering healthcare facility dedicated to servicing employees of the Santa Fe Railroad. The hospital flourished throughout the early decades of the 20th century, and in 1924 was expanded to allow for more patients. By the year of 1937, the hospital was renamed to Linda Vista Community Hospital.

However, despite its best efforts, the Great Depression and World War II took a toll on the hospital’s vitality and the area soon became a target for violent crimes. The lack of funding at the hospital resulted in nurses and doctors becoming understaffed while still having to take on large numbers of patients, resulting in the hospital’s death toll to rise.

The surrounding neighborhoods continued to get worse, and by the 1970s and 80s, a steady stream of gunshot wound and stabbing victims were visiting the hospital’s emergency room due to gang violence. Due to the hospital’s poor conditions, in 1998, it stopped accepting ambulances to their ER, and the quality of care continued to plummet.

By 1991, the hospital checked out its last patient and was completely shuttered. Although the hospital’s high death rate and ultimate closing was believed to have happened due to lack of funds, rumors circulated that there was also mistreatment and abuse among the staff and patients.

The Linda Vista Hospital’s buildings still stand today but are deteriorating rapidly, which has made it a great spot to shoot Hollywood TV shows and films, such as portions of “Outbreak,” “End of Days,” “Pearl Harbor” and the pilot episode of “ER”.

However, during these productions, the film crews and overnight security reported “unexplained phenomena” coming from the hospital. In particular, three spirits have been sighted on multiple occasions: a little girl in the surgical room, a young woman pacing the hallways of the third floor, and a hospital assistant still making his daily rounds to patients’ rooms.

 

Hudson River State Hospital

Poughkeepsie, New York

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Photo by: Hviola

Our next abandoned hospital brings us to Poughkeepsie, New York at the Hudson River State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital that opened in 1871 and closed in 2003. When it first opened, it was officially called the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane and admitted only 40 patients, despite the on-going construction that continued for another 25 years.

When the hospital was first built, it was part of the Kirkbride Plan, which practiced new methods of treatment that focused on healing mentally ill patients. Prior to these mental institutions, many people with mental disabilities were incarcerated or kept away in basements or cellar, away from other members of the family. With the Kirkbride Plan, patients were encouraged to exercise in the fields of the campus and to eat a healthy diet, trying to rehabilitate them in order for them to re-enter society.

However, these particular methods of recovery also happened to include using straitjackets, electroshock therapy, and lobotomies, which were later deemed inhumane. As different, more acceptable therapies began to emerge, the hospital started to slowly close down as larger hospitals were no longer needed. Another factor leading to the eventual closing of the facility was insufficient funding, which created poor conditions at the hospital for patients to endure.

Spread out over 160 acres of land, the hospital campus is vast and was designed by some of the country’s leading architects at the time, including Calvert Vaux and Fredrick Law Olmstead, who also created Central Park in New York City. After completely closing down in 2003, the buildings have remained empty ever since. In 2007, there was a fire that burnt down portions of the facility, but much of it still remains. As with the first hospital that we discussed, this facility is also believed to be haunted by ghostly spirits and other paranormal activity that roam the halls at night.

 

Trenton State Hospital

Trenton, New Jersey

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Photo by: Unknown

The third and final end to our abandoned hospital tour takes us to Trenton, New Jersey, at the Trenton State Hospital, which was New Jersey’s first ever public mental facility in the state. Originally named the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum, it was built in 1848 and was built using the first ever Kirkbride Plan method, which was previously described in the last hospital story.

In 1907, Dr. Henry Cotton became the director of the hospital and instituted treatments based on his own theories of mental illness, which eventually turned the hospital into a disaster and led to its failure. At first, he had a progressive view towards the patients, doing away with restraints, introduced occupational therapy, increased the staff, and instituted daily staff meetings about patient care. However, things took a turn for the worse when Cotton developed a theory that mental illness was caused by bodily infections.

Starting in 1917, Cotton became obsessed with removing patients’ teeth in order to get rid of infection, which in return, he believed cured their mental illness. It’s said that in some cases, he would pull patients’ teeth even after x-rays confirmed no evidence of infection. He moved onto other body parts eventually such as the gallbladder, stomach, ovaries, testicles, colon tracts, and uteruses. Cotton claimed that his methods had a high cure rate, but instead, were creating a high mortality rate for the hospital. It’s also been said that he didn’t always receive consent from his patients or their family, and that he would go through with the procedure regardless of the resistance.

In fact, Cotton began to publish papers and give presentations on his work. It wasn’t until 1930 before he finally left the hospital, and he died three short years later. Another interesting fact was that the tooth-pulling practice remained at the hospital after he left until around 1960.

To this day, some buildings on the campus are still in use, particularly the newer buildings. However, the older buildings have since been abandoned and left to be haunted by spirits who once roamed the halls.

 

Visiting Abandoned Buildings

If you’re planning a trip to visit one of these spine-chilling abandoned buildings for yourself, there’s one thing you should know before going: it’s more than likely illegal.

That’s right. The urge to engage with the past might be tempting, but also illegal. Unless you get special permission, visiting these sites unannounced in the middle of the night will more than likely be considered trespassing. If you have to jump a fence to get into the building, if there’s “No Trespassing” signs on the property, or if there’s a padlock of some kind, it’s considered illegal to enter the premises.

However, if you’re just itching to visit one of these sites, just know that ghostly spirits might not be the only thing you encounter once the authorities find you there.

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