It's impossible to say how many people died in the Franciscan Medical Center over the course of its more than a century of operation. Some people say that many of them never left.

Reports I've read say that the Franciscan is full of moving shadows and mysterious voices. Our guide through the building concurred. He described several brushes with the paranormal during his time there.

Working first shift as a guard meant our guy had to walk the entire building once at 6 A.M.--while it was still dark outside. On several occasions, while walking down a hallway, he would see something reflected in the window glass at the end of the hall--something behind him. More than once, mysterious sights and sounds have caused the guards to chase someone or something they never seem to find.

According to him, a certain room on one of the upper floors was the site of a nun's suicide years earlier and has been haunted ever since. We visited this room, and he pointed out one of the security cameras on an outside corner of the adjacent Dayton Heart Hospital, which he says captured an explosion of brilliant white light in this room. The guards were called up to make sure nothing was on fire, and found nothing out of place--no electrical shorts, no fire, nothing.

The Nun's Room

The guard also told us about a spot in the hospital which smells like perfume. When we came to the place we all smelled it too. The guard has taken celiing tiles out trying to find out what causes the smell, but so far nothing's turned up. He says the legend concerning that area is about a woman who worked at the hospital pharmacy whose boyfriend killed her because she wouldn't get him any more drugs.

The Perfume Spot

Finally, The guard says there is a tape circulating among the guards which shows the main lobby--the gigantic atrium of the main building, which stands where the original hospital was erected more than 120 years ago. The tape is said to show a wheelchair spinning in circles by itself.

The following was e-mailed to me by someone whose mother was a nurse at the Franciscan:

My mother has told me a few stories about the place. She told me that when she was first hired, she could hear someone crying at the doors to the pediatrics unit late at night but every time she went to check it out, the crying stopped. She said that the security guards informed her it was the ghost of a nun weeping for the lives of children who had died while in the ward. After that, she could continue to hear the crying but wasn't worried about it anymore. She had never heard your report about the perfume room but said that it doesn't surprise her that it's there. She's seen people standing outside the windows staring into a room only to vanish a second later. She's been in rooms where humidity and moisture fog up the windows for no reason and has had people breathing down on her when she was alone with a patient.

A message from another guard--a woman, this time (I saw only men during my tour) who guarded the place while her husband did the same job. Suzannah, the guard, wrote this to me on August 23, 2012:

My husband and I were both working for the private security company back in 2004-2005. The company was let go and the management/administration went in-house with their own police department some time around 2006.

Fransciscan/St. Elizabeth was a very interesting place to work. In the room where the nun had committed suicide, my husband said that he could feel a presence in that room every time he went inside or walked by. He also had an eerie feeling in the morgue; you could 'smell' death in there. And when we both went into the morgue, there was a message supposedly written by the remaining staff on the blackboard which read, "...and now we must say goodbye!" The first part of the message escapes me.

I think I also told you about the adult psychiatric ward--I was a training officer and my husband and I were taking a new person around to all of the different areas on inside foot patrol, and when we finally reached the fourth floor in the SW Bldg., which was the adult psych ward. It was nearly dark outside. My husband had been sick with flu and was walking around with a temperature of 103. We had all gotten through the area (which was completely torn up with disconnected lights hanging out of the ceiling, walls with holes in them, and very dim night-lights in certain rooms such as one restroom, which we passed) and were walking through the last hallway toward the elevators when my husband literally said, "Boy, is it dark! I wish we had more lights on in here!" As soon as he said that, EVERY light in the entire area (including the disconnected ones hanging down from the ceiling) came on! My husband saw it too; every single one came on. There were no other personnel in that part of the building, and it was after hours so maintenance was also gone for the day. My husband, who was in a daze from the fever, just stood there and stared, while the new guy and I literally ran out of the area "screaming like little girls," according to my husband! He yelled to us to come back, but some time later, he caught up with us. My husband talks about that to this day, and he still says that it was one of the creepiest things he ever encountered, even that he felt that someone or something put those lights on to protect him from falling in the dark, as he was so sick that night.

It's stuff like that which will stick with us for the rest of our lives. To this day, I actually miss working at the old Franciscan/St. Elizabeth Hospital. No other job or security contract could even come up to that level of suspense and intellectual stimulation. I truly feel and know deep down that all of the things we encountered there were real, and I can tell you that absolutely nothing that I have relayed to you was fabricated, exaggerated, or anything else. Other people had encounters with the "residents" there, but as I understand, even the male guards wouldn't go into places like the South Building (the area where the nun committed suicide) at night. While I actually did go through there after midnight by myself, the encounter I had was real, and it definitely frightened me.

I do believe in ghosts, ever since I was a little girl and our house had its own haunting; I didn't go to look for them when I first started working at old Franciscan, but they actually found me!

On our trip through the Franciscan nothing terribly out of the ordinary happened. We did smell the perfume in the spot the guard had told us about. And the elevators did act funny--especially at the basement level. But no major sightings. Still, an amazing place. My thanks once again to the nameless guard for showing us through.


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