Have you ever wondered where entire lives of personal information are stored after visiting the doctor? There are times when we get to see this first hand, and in the most eerie of situations. Stepping inside, it’s like the sirens have been sounded, everybody has quickly packed up, rushing out with anything they could hold and let a wave of post-apocalyptic destruction wash over from room to room.
A strong smell of stale medical supplies hovered in the air slightly covering the underlying of must and mold. As I traversed these halls, climbing one deserted floor after another, I felt that the end of most human existence had already become a reality. Logbooks lay scattered across office floors, while children’s toys and beds remain stationed in their original areas. Strong winds swept in through the numerous shattered windows surrounding the entire outside of this circular, 10-story tower, breezing across privacy curtains, which still hung surrounding each dirty, forgotten bed. As if a bomb had went off in the center of each floor, all lobbies sat surrounded by a vivid destruction, while glass reflected a sparkling blue from small leaks of light reaching in.
So there we were, staring down 10 massive stories of thousands of forgotten stories. From the dark depths of the morgue, to the paper-scattered offices above, this towering biohazard held a treasure trove of information anywhere from blood samples, drug tests, other various bodily fluids, body tissue, x-rays, all scattered atop the everyday lives of these patients detailed in paperwork. It can only make one wonder ‘how does this much just simply get tossed aside?’ Now, this is the normal thought one’s brain may spark through exploring any place, not limited to hospitals, but when you personally witness a structure painted with the dark colors of post-apocalypse, it can touch on the mind in a much greater way. These are the entire lives of people through horrific and traumatic events, some gone, some living normal lives, possibly unaware that their stories sit scattered in the dark depths of a decaying medical center.
Built in 1952, the center began as a small six-bed operation, but by 1958, the center has already amassed over 100 beds, followed by a coronary care unit nearly 10 years after.
Frequented by patients for many years, these grounds have sat quietly abandoned since their final closure in 2007. While shuffling through pitch-black corridors, we stopped to notice a vacant space, where once held elevator doors providing closure to former lifts, and shining our flashlights inside we had discovered financial records piled from the bottom of the elevator shaft to the floor where we stood. During a 1991 financial crisis, the hospital had filed for their second bankruptcy, indicated by the documents stating that it was urgent to move furniture and equipment to another location. This medical center would come to see a 3rd bankruptcy in the year 2001, after using money reserved for taxes to cover operating expenses. A settlement plan was approved in 2003, pulling the center from bankruptcy, but that wouldn’t be the end of problems for this establishment.
In June of 2011, 4 years after its closure, a waiting room on the 5th floor was sent into an inferno. Quickly controlled shortly after by local firefighters, it had only managed to scorch the couple floors outside the lobby, within the stairwell leading up. As if this hadn’t been enough for a building to endure, another fire broke out in late October, burning up some areas on an upper floor during this same year.
Still armed with flashlights, we could hear the faint sounds of night outside echoing in through open spaces. Never has a simple cricket song sounded so ear piercingly creepy, as the sound hovered above the vast silence of rotting hallways, reverberating with the “plop—plop—plop” of water dropping to the floors. For a moment, it had been decided to turn out the flashlights and simply listen to the noise surrounding us. Inside my head, all I could picture was the start of a bad horror movie, you know, one of those ones where at a moments notice, you are forced to run through the most ridiculous maze of intense darkness. The halls were so void of light, air in front of me actually seemed thick with darkness; one of those moments where you can’t even tell that you’re holding your hand in front of your own face.
X-ray tables sat beneath crumbled destruction, surrounded by discarded patient identification badges and boxes full of birth records. Open biohazard containers filled to the brim with used needles sat next to collections of bone marrow samples, a scene that may make your stomach turn, but to me this was such a wild discovery.
We were the only two wandering the halls that night, but were we truly alone here in this desolate place? I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was so much life surrounding us. The type place imagined through stories, in reality right in front of us.
Late January of this year, 2014, marked the beginning of demolition. The life of this center is now limited, slowly fading away with each falling brick.