I worked the nightshift for eight years in a private hospital in Pretoria during 1996 up to 2003. During this period I experienced strange things. This hospital was built in 1904 with funds from Holland. It was non-profit, even when I worked there it was still non-profit. It is actually a historical place. It could have been a museum if it was empty without patients. I just want to give you a lay out of the place before start my story.
When entering the front door of the hospital you get the reception desk in front of you. Next to the desk on the left is a waiting area with couches. Hanging onto the walls are very old framed photos of the hospital and the staff that worked there years ago, and each patient also gets a booklet about the hospitals history on admission because it is so fascinating. Like I said it is a beautiful historical place with a modern mixed vintage atmosphere. If you stand in front of the admission desk you get a long passage on your left hand side leading to a new part of the hospital. If you turn to your right hand side there is a hospital pharmacy and next to the admission desk on your right there are two wooden doors that open directly into the female ward where I worked. That was the old part of the hospital. It was old but it had character like all the old buildings do.
Standing at the doors that enter the female ward you can see a very long passage. On the right side were all the patients rooms, it started with room no 3 with 6 beds in it. This room was the only one without doors to the stoop and garden. Next to room 3 was room 4 with 2 beds and a double wooden glass door leading to big red polished stoop where patients can sit outside and enjoy the view of a lovely garden in front of them. Still on the right side room 5 follows with 1 bed. Next to room 5 is room 6 with 1 bed. Room 7 and 8 follows with each 2 beds. Then you get a passage that leads outside again to the stoop. If you skip this passage you get room 9 and 10 with 4 beds and then the last female ward no 11 with 2 beds. From where the female ward ends you get a square lay out with very old tiles that was the centre from where the hospital started way back in 1904. Out of this square right side is the matron office left side is a door going outside to another garden and new part of the hospital. Before going out the door there is a little church prayer room with an antique organ Bible and antique chairs for family to sit when a patient dies the windows of this room is coloured glass like a church window. This room takes you way back in time when you see it. This square space is between the female and male ward from this square you look into the male ward with also a long passage and the same layout all the rooms on the right with wooden doors going to the stoop. On the left side entering the female ward were patient bathroom and toilets, linen room, stockroom, another bathroom, staff toilet, kitchen, duty room, another stockroom, patient bathroom, sluice, another toilet and bathroom.
When I started to work there everybody told me about the "grysmannetjie" in English it means the grey little man. The staff that worked there for years said that many patients saw this "grysmannetjie" I laughed it off because I knew how nurses can try to scare new staff on nightshift, and some patients' get confused during the night because of sleeping tablets and medication.
I must say during these eight years there were patients that couldn't sleep at night. Some of them put on their bed lights and read right through the night and then asked to be shifted to another room the following day. One old lady just said it out loud one night. She rang her bell and just told me straight that she was sick and tired of this ghost attacking her when she wanted to sleep and could we please move her to another room. She said every time she closed her eyes to tried to sleep this thing would strangle her. She didn't have a sleeping tablet because she was not a trouble sleeper, and she was well aware about everything and her surroundings. We moved her and the problem was solved. The other poor patients left their lights on for the rest of the night because they over heard the old lady because she was a little deaf and said it out so loud. We tried to comfort them but they seemed to believe the old lady and room 10 stayed awake that whole night. Well I didn't blame them at all.
On another occasion it was quite busy and this happened at nine o'clock at night. I was busy doing all the patients' blood pressures, when I saw a woman in a very old fashion gown walking down the passage on her way to the male ward. I followed her to ask her where she was going because everyone was supposed to be in their beds for medication and to let their vital data be monitored. She walked slowly and I could see she was on her own mission. She was a short lady with dark brown short old fashion curled hairstyle. I saw her from the back. She was even fastening her gowns belt while walking. Her gown was shiny like that type of material that is out of fashion now with big red, blue and orange flowers on it with a dark back ground. As I followed her she turned left and walked right through the wall before she reached the square that separates the female ward from the male ward. I was stunned. She looked so real and she walked in the passage that was filled with dim light but bright enough for me not to think a ghost will walk just like that while the lights is still on.
On another occasion there was a patient whose child played with unseen children in the garden. It was visiting hour and we just took over from day staff. I did rounds to check the drips and she asked me to go and call her child in because she felt embarrassed about the way he was making noise running and playing with his unseen friends in the garden. I checked him from the stoop and he was running and laughing and playing with other children that we could not see. I asked her if this is his normal behaviour. She told me that he could see things. He was about seven years old. Well if that was imaginary friends or ghosts I don't know for sure but it looked funny but what he saw was real to him. I still wonder about that one.
One night I did rounds with a nurse who worked with me. The batteries in the night torch we used were a bit flat. Usually we used flat batteries because the light is then not as bright as when the batteries are full. It is just less disturbing for the patients when the torch is dim and not so bright. It was time for other batteries but we had to use that torch for the night because that was all we had at that time. I went into room eleven and the other nurse was following. This torch just made a tiny light just enough to see a dim little light where you need it. All of a sudden I felt someone in my way when I entered the room. Something struggled with me to get out, I was in its way, we circled around each other before it went out the room behind me I could feel how it pass me at my back side. I could feel how it clung onto my jersey. I turned around and the other nurse ran down the passage for a view meters. I got so scared that I put on the light in the room. I just made an excuse to the patients who was bedridden in that room at that stage, and told them that we are going to rub them and turn them. After we settled the two patients the nurse told me she saw a black figure running from behind me out of the room with a great speed and disappeared as it reached the passage to the male ward.
One night a patient in room four was talking with the empty chair in front of her. She was the only patient in that room on that stage. Room four was almost across the duty room. We could hear her conversation and it all made sense all the stuff she was talking about with this guy sitting on the chair next to her bed. The only problem was that we couldn't see him. The nurse who worked with us that night went to her door and asked her to whom is she talking to and she said that he is a patient from the male ward and he can't sleep. She was a sweet old lady. She said we must not chase him because she enjoys his company. She talked until morning hours with someone on that chair and then apparently he left, and gone back to his own room because she told him to sleep tight then, and she went back to sleep.
The girls who worked at reception used to come and make coffee during the night in our kitchen. They used to sleep in the morning hours because on that stage the hospital didn't had an emergency unit. It was like a clinic with admissions from the doctors' rooms during the day and booked cases for theatre. The point is, for them working at reception it was very quiet after their work for the night is done and they slept for a view hours before four o'clock in the morning when we offered them breakfast. We used to make toast and eggs every morning at four o'clock and enjoyed breakfast on the stoop before we start with the patients at half past four. It was a lovely place to work for and we were like family all of us. Later on they changed the pharmacy that was next to reception into a 24hour emergency unit and shift the pharmacy to another spot in the hospital. Only then the girls at reception couldn't sleep anymore because it became busier. It happened a view times with the girls who worked at reception when they slept. I say girls because they were two girls who worked there during the night, shifts against each other. When the one is on shift the other one is off, if you know what I mean?
The one girl told us she can't sleep there at reception because she claims that on several occasions somebody literally shakes her on her shoulder to wake her up and when she looks there is nobody. She also told us that one night she was finish with all her work and she was very tired and she went to sit on the couch and put her head on the edge of the cough and closed her eyes without sleeping she just chilled out for a view minutes, then she heard footsteps she lifted her head and checked but there were nobody.
We did rounds every half hour to check the patients and their drips. It was very strange when room eleven rang her bell after our round because she was fast asleep when we checked on her. I went to attend to her call. When I entered the room she was snoring. I looked for the bell. The bed was against the wall with the wire of the bell hanging from the wall stuck between the bed and the wall and the switch where you put the bell on was stuck hanging under the bed against the wall and the bed. There is no way that this patient could reach this bell to put it on, but it was put on. I put it off and got it out of there and put it at the right place where she could reach it. I was angry with the nurses who washed her because they didn't check when finished in that room. The thing is the bells they used in that hospital was old fashioned. The bells switched on manually like a light switch. Someone or something switched on that bell underneath a bed because that patient was bedridden and not able to reach under her bed at all. There were no one so who was it?
One morning between three o'clock and half past three I actually saw the "grysmannetjie". In that hospital they send the patients with big operations to a high care room in the other new part of the hospital for observation just for the first night post op. At three o'clock two nurses must leave the ward to go and wash these patients in high care. Usually we were three or four on duty. That night we were four on duty and two nurses left the ward to go and wash the patients. It was me and my charge sister that was left behind in the ward. She was writing reports in the duty room, and I went to the passage between room eight and nine because there was an empty bed that need to be fixed with linen. I pulled the bed halfway into the long passage and then I saw this figure coming out of room ten. It was a grey long man. I would say he was at least 1.8 meter high and medium build. When he came out of that room he saw me. I got a fright when I saw him, and he got a fright when he saw me. You can say we got a fright for seeing each other. He made a quick U-turn back into the room. I just stood there frozen for a view seconds then I made my way very fast to the duty room. I told the sister who worked with me. She worked there for many years. She told me that it must be the "grysmannetjie" because patients who had seen him prescribes him as this grey figure that stands next to their beds and just staring at them for a while then he leaves the room. I admit after that I was really scared to do rounds. I never did round alone after that night.
My father was also admitted in that same hospital but it was many years ago before I even knew I would work there someday. He experienced in the male ward a nasty attack during one night. He said something grabbed him by his throat one night. He also told me that he saw a lady with dark long hair standing in the room he was in. She was holding a child in her arms, and said in Afrikaans that she and the child suffer a lot then she disappeared.
Sorry for the length of this story but if I managed to shorten it then it would be too confusing to understand.