At one point earlier in my twenties, I worked as part of the behavioral staff within an inpatient psychiatric hospital providing both acute and residential care to children and teenagers. It was a fairly new hospital, only a couple of decades old, and had never served as anything but a psychiatric facility. For years it had also housed both adult acute and adult residential units, but about a year prior to my employment, the company shut down those units and moved the adults elsewhere.
The experience that most stands out to me took place in a shut down adult unit. Given the layout of the facility, the only way to the medical offices or the little kid unit was to walk all the way down the long hall that once housed a small portion of the adults. The hall was dark, cluttered by storage and some damaged wall decor, and all of the bedrooms were locked and empty. After every cluster of bedrooms, there stood a set of steel double doors that could only be opened by scanning your badge. This was to lessen the chance of any flight risk client truly going rogue.
It was early on in my time there, and I was on my way to the little kid unit to talk to their nurses station. After I'd buzzed through a couple of double doors in the abandoned adult wing, I came through another set and found a young, slight built child staring at me from the end of a longer hall, just before the last set of double doors that would finally open to a nurses station and brightly lit, colorful children's day room. She startled me, and when I saw her I knew she probably wasn't a rogue patient, if that makes sense to you. But, not wanting to be catch the mental chaos that comes with a psychiatric hospital, I chalked it up to the spooky unit and asked her where the adults were, if they knew she wasn't in the day room. She quickly turned to her left, laughed, and ran into a bedroom.
I approached the room and, as I'd said earlier, it was locked. Just like the rest of them. That solidified in my mind what was going on, but before I could leave the unit with a face that read "Eek! Poltergeist!" I had to make triple sure that she wasn't in there. I opened it and, just as I suspected, there was no one. No furniture, no storage, no child. An empty room. I check its bathroom. Nobody.
I switched channels on my hand held. "This is flowersgrowback. I think I saw a little girl, curly hair, on the 600 unit. New client maybe, she isn't familiar. I haven't been able to find her again. Are all of the kids accounted for down here?"
Immediately the nurses from the closest station and two male coworkers were scouring the unit. All of the children were exactly where they needed to be, but if there was a random child in the building, she needed to be found. After a long while, the search was abandoned and I became the "new client." Funny, right?
One of the nurses who'd been there for over a decade pulled me to the side. I expected a lecture. I was embarrassed to have rang a false alarm. But instead she explained to me that although no one had died in the hospital, that eventually every female employee would run into a little girl with curly hair. She could be anywhere in the hospital, and seems to giggle and run off like she's playing with you. She'd seen her more than once and was a little confused as to why the girl would be there, but basically the nurse understood that I wasn't insane.
Once word got around that I'd seen "that little girl," some other staff that had been there longer started pulling me to the side and whispering to me their belief in my story and sharing with me their own.
Outside of the little girl, it wasn't unusual to hear or feel left over or residual energy. Someone small and invisible pulling on your pants leg. Little footsteps running down the hall at you full speed. You turn around, hear the running getting closer, but you're the only one in the hallway. Laughter, squealing, tiny voices in empty play rooms and the vacant cafeteria. I once heard balls bouncing in the gym in the middle of the night. Thinking there must be staff playing "therapeutic" basketball with an upset teenager, I opened up the door and it was pitch black but I could still hear the balls and the feet. I turned on the light and it all went silent.
No one has died there. Now, that doesn't mean that none of the clients haven't died away from the hospital, unfortunately. So maybe that's something. A lot of kids, adults, teenagers who came to the hospital knew it as the only safe place in the entire world. Sometimes when they were scared, they'd even walk to the hospital on their own in the rain or at night, whenever their home was too much. I'm sure there's also a lot of residual energy. It's highly chaotic. Lots of violence, self injury, etc. Goes on.