Dim Red Glow

July 28, 2011

Hey there I have a few ghost stories, some that I have experienced, some I have been told first hand, and others handed down through time. I will start off with my favourite. It is one of the historical stories which is more than likely a romantic fancy, but all the same passes the time on night shift well.

While I was doing my training I worked as a Nurse’s Aide at a centre for children with mental and physical disabilities, I was told this story one night shift by a nurse who had worked with a nurse who had been at the centre for years.

St. Helens (*name changed as I don’t know the legal ins and outs of naming an organization in print) Centre originally started life as a TB sanitorium. St. Helens is an impressive old brick building, nestled into a parklike expanse of nature and to this day remains run by the Catholic church. It was built several kilometers outside of the city limits to prevent the spread of the devastating disease. On many of the walls of the current centre hang photos of a bygone era prior to the invention of Streptomycin, of nursing sisters in full habit tending to paitents in iron lungs, or taking the stronger patients into the “good air” of the Canadian prairies as a form of treatment. From what I understand, when a person was diagnosed with TB in those days they were required by law to receive treatment in the sanatorium which meant several months, if not years of confinement in many cases against the patient’s will. Some patients unhappy with their involuntary admission would attempt to escape back to the city and to their loved ones. The Sisters at St Helen’s attempted to dissuade such actions by doing an hourly round of the perimeter of the grounds to search for patients or any sign of patients attempting to escape.

After the revolutionary discovery of streptomycin the numbers of patients with TB dropped significantly and sanitoriums rapidly became obsolete. As a result St. Helens was facing closure due to declining numbers of patients. The Catholic Church managed to identify a need in the community for a centre for the care of children suffereing from severe mental and physical disabilites. As the population of the patients in the centre had changed, the need to carry out an hourly round of the grounds ceased to exist. Over the years the number of nursing sisters declined and nurses and nurse’s aides from the public sector were brought in to fill the empty posts. It was at this time the nurse who told this tale began working at the centre.

Shortly after she started started working at St. Helens the new nurse had a disturbing encounter. She was working night shift one evening and had to walk over to another ward to collect some supplies that her home ward was short of. She stepped off the lift into the dark corridor, desperately trying to remember the directions given to her by a fellow nurse. As she turned a corner in the hall she encountered one of the Nursing Sisters walking away from her further up the way. Relieved to see someone who would surely know the where the nurse needed to go, she called out to the sister and quickened her pace to catch up. As she ran to catch up to the Sister, the nurse thought that she could see a dim red glow coming from under the sister’s dress and from the openings of the sleeves but thought perhaps it was her eyes adjusting to the change in the light. The nun never slowed or acknowledged hearing the nurse’s call and soon turned a corner. Still in hot pursuit the nurse rounded the corner into a silent empty corridor. There were no doorways in that hallway, only a flight of stairs to the block of wards where the nurse was headed. There was no way the nun could have made the distance in the few seconds it took the nurse to reach the corner, and there were no sound of anyone on the stairs.

The nurse assumed that her eyes were playing tricks on her and didn’t make too much of it, until a few weeks later when she was on night shift again. It was well into the night and the nurse was doing her hourly breath check. She entered one of her charges room’s and was checking that everything was ok. She noticed that she had forgotten to close the patient’s drapes, she remembered thinking it wasn’t an issue at the moment as there was no moon that night, but that when morning came the sun would beam in and possibly disturb her patient’s sleep. She moved across the room to close the curtains, and was about to pull them shut when she noticed a red light in the distance. At that time the Centre was still out of the city, (it has since been engulfed by urban sprawl) and therefore there shouldn’t be anyone on the grounds. As she peered into the night she could see the light was slowly making its way along the end of the field along the border between the hospital grounds and the forest surrounded it. Knowing that no one should be out on the grounds at that hour of the night the nurses headed out to the desk to phone the sister in charge. The Nurse’s aide at the desk stopped the nurse from placing the call after she had heard the story recounted. The aides response was not one of concern, but instead one of calm. She explained that one of the old nuns had dedicated her life to the care of the TB Patients and had drowned when she had pursued an patient who tried to escape by swimming across a river just off the hospital grounds. Since that time she had been seen throughout the hospital walking the corridors, and every so often she had been seen doing the hourly rounds of the grounds. Apparently you she always faces away from the people who see her, and she a red light glows from the openings in her habit.

As I said before, I don’t know how true this was, as much as I would have loved to I never did see her. It does make for a cool story though. What do you think?

Hope you enjoyed it.


– Posted by CanadianNurseAbroad; Fark


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