Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Camden Clark Hospital, Parkersburg

The land that Camden Clark Hospital currently sits atop has a long and full history in the realm of medicine.  During the Civil War, the land was part of the Camden farm, and became the site of a makeshift Civil War Hospital.

In 1895, another establishment opened nearby under the name of City Hospital.  This hospital was known for its nursing program, one of the oldest in the state.  Classes began March 15, 1898 under the direction of Miss Mary Pendergast, who later married W.S. Link.
Pendergast held her position as director until 1903, when she was succeeded by Miss Elizabeth Williams. 

Around this time, the hospital was making some major changes.  One founder, Dr. Andrew Clark, died in 1902, and bequeathed his estate, an estimated $26,000, to the hospital.  In 1918, Anne Camden, widow of Senator Johnson Camden, passed away, and left the Camden family home to the city for hospital use.  The mansion, located at 717 Ann Street was converted into an 104 bed facility, complete with two operating rooms and a laboratory.  The expansion added a west wing on the right side of the mansion, which was completed in 1920.  On April 16th, the new hospital building officially opened and was dedicated under the new name of Camden Clark.

Further expansion took place throughout the 1930s.  In 1936, a new front entrance and three story patient wing was completed with funding from bonds and Public Works.  This new and improved wing was named the East Wing. 

The following year, a new nursing director took over the nursing school.  Her name was Ella Bloomhart.  Bloomhart held the position until 1944, but returned in 1949 and held the position until at LEAST 1957, when my records ended.  Ella's years of dedication seem to have left a lasting imprint on the hospital, as staff and patients alike are convinced she is still there, tending to her nursing duties.

Ella is described as wearing a nursing uniform common throughout the late 1940s/early 1950s.  However, those who recognize the apparition claim that although her uniform is characteristic of her later years in service, she looks much younger than they remember, at least as young as she was during her first tenure as Director.  It is said that if you try to speak to Ella, she'll ignore you, but she won't dissipate or fade away.  She stays focused on her rounds until she disappears by walking through a hospital wall.  She is seen throughout the hospital, including the modern building, but is most often seen on the second and fifth stories and in the old section.

Another ghost is also said to make its home in the hospital.  This entity is only seen in the "old section" of the hospital, or East Wing, which still occasionally houses  patients. Nurses and staff claim that whenever the bed is the "haunted room" is made, ready for a new patient, an indentation appears shortly afterward.  The indentation is said to be the same size and shape as a human's bottom, and appears as if someone is sitting on the edge of the bed.

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