ghost story, life, non fiction short story, nursing home, nursing home ghost, short story

The Ghost of Room 221…New Jersey Nursing Home Ghost

This is the story about the ghost in room 221. This is a true story and I will be describing the actual events as I witnessed them that evening. I was inspired to write up this ghost story after reading a ghost story that I enjoyed on another blog, which you can check out HERE. 

I was working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home in New Jersey. I had five rooms assigned to me on this night. Each room had two roommates living in it.

It was dinner time, and all of my residents were at dinner, in the dining room. We had a call bell system, similar to that which you may have experienced in a hospital. If a resident needed help in the room, there was a call bell on a string , by their bed and they could pull the string to ring for help.

If the call bell was activated, it would call my pager in my pocket, and also call the computer at the front desk. When the secretary at the desk received the call, she would announce it over the speaker.

On this particular night, the call bell rang in room 221. As I said, the residents were at dinner. I went to the room to check, because you never know of someone may have wandered into the room. There are a lot of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease residents in the nursing home. They do wander into rooms by accident, from time to time.

When I arrived at room 221, there was no one there. I cancelled the call bell and assumed that maybe it had been rung before dinner, and I had forgotten to cancel it. I told the secretary that I had cancelled the bell, and let her know that no one was in the room.

A few minutes later, the call bell rang again. The secretary started scolding me for not answering the bell. I reminded her that she knew I had cancelled it. This particular secretary did not like me and seemed to enjoy telling me that I did not know how to do my job.

I went to the room and cancelled the bell again and informed her that the bell had been cancelled and that both of the roommates were in the dining room, eating dinner. The dining room was right in front of the desk and she could see into it. I gestured towards the dining room for her to see, but she just grumbled something about me neglecting my residents.

This went on a few more times, until the nasty secretary reported me to the supervising nurse, for not answering my call bells. I explained to the nurse that I had cancelled the bell each time and that there was no one in the room.

The nurse thought there must be something making the call bell stick, so that it was not cancelling. This was not true because there is a cancel message that is sent to my pager each time a call bell is cancelled.

That evening I had received a cancel message each time I had cancelled the bell. I knew it  was ringing from scratch each time.

The nurse and I went together and she cancelled the bell. I asked her to please let the nasty secretary know, so that she would stop fussing at me. (I did not quite phrase it that way…)

So, of course about 5 minutes later,  the bell rang again, The secretary started yelling at me about the fact that if the bell rings too long, the computer will call the Director of Nursing at her home. This was an overreaction on her part, because the bells have to ring for 20 minutes straight before the director is called.

I tried to explain this to the secretary. I told her that at no time has this call bell rung for more than a few minutes before I had cancelled it. Besides it was not my fault that the bell kept ringing. Again, she mumbled something about me not taking care of the residents when they call.

Needless to say, this woman was not my favorite person to work with. Of all the people I have worked with over the years, she caused me the most anxiety.

So, the call bell rang again and I got the nurse myself this time. I asked her to please have that secretary call maintenance, since there was clearly something wrong with the bell. She agreed that there was a maintenance issue and asked the secretary to call the maintenance guy.

Well, he arrived and found me to ask what had been happening. I explained the whole story to him and told him that I could not keep going into this room to cancel this mystery bell. It was beginning to interfere with my other work.

He was compassionate to my situation and went right away to get tools to fix the bell. He came back and worked on the bell. He found me 15 minutes later and told me that he believed it should be fixed okay now. He said to call him, if there were any further problems with the bell.

After about 15 minutes, the bell rang again. The resident were now sitting in the TV room and no one was in the room. The secretary began yelling at me again that I was neglecting my residents and I overheard her telling some of my coworkers the same thing.

At this point I was losing patience with the secretary and I refused to go into the room any more. She could sit there and stress over the bell calling the director, if she wanted to.

Maybe the director should know about it anyway. After all, if the bell was not working properly by the time I put my sweet old ladies to bed, then how would they be able to call for help if they had an emergency?

The nurse called maintenance and asked the secretary to stop telling the other workers that I was not taking care of my residents.

He came back and found me. He said he would try something else to fix it and not to worry if it rang while he was working on it. He said to ignore the bell for the time being and go about the rest of my work. I was happy to do this, as I was getting behind and I had a lot of people to get ready for bed.

He left the room and  I saw him near the front desk, I was busy working and figured he would find me, when the room was ready for me to return those ladies to it.

He came to me on the floor, where I was working. He asked me, “did the call bell from 221 just ring on your pager?”

I checked and it in fact had just rung on there. I had been busy taking care of a resident and I had not noticed it.

“Come with me. I want to show you something,” he said.

I liked this maintenance guy, so I agreed to go with him, so that he could show me whatever it was that he wanted me to see. He took to to room 221.

He walked me into the room to where the call bell was. He said “Look” and pointed to the wall, where the call bell assembly was usually mounted.

There was just a huge empty hole in the wall. The entire assembly had been removed.

He said to me “I could not think of anything else to do, so I decided to remove the entire system out of the wall. I took it out about 30 minutes ago.”

“How?” I stammered…

He said, “I have no idea. There is nothing there. There is nothing hooked into the electrical system. There is no call bell here now.”

And still the bell rang for the rest of the night.  The frequency  slowed down after a while and it  began ringing every hour or so.

When the night shift arrived on the next night, I asked them if that bell had continued to ring after I had gone home the night before.  They told me that every couple of hours that bell would ring, even though all that was left of it was a gaping hole in the wall.

That is my ghost story from the nursing home. It was weird and I still remember the room number all these years later.

They eventually replaced that bell assembly with a new system. It was an upgrade and different from the older one. But from time to time, during the next year I worked there, that call bell would ring when no one was in the room.