Stalking the corridors of Yuanlin Hospital

Yuanlin Hospital 員林醫院

Despite having spent a lot of time in Yuánlín 員林, a mid-sized city in central Changhua 彰化, Taiwan, I have only recently begun to explore some of its more famous ruins. Among these is Yuanlin Hospital 員林醫院, formally the Changhua County Yuanlin Hospital 彰化縣立員林醫院, originally built in 1963 and operational until the the turn of the millennium. Nowadays it is one of the more notorious abandoned places in central Taiwan, where it is regularly featured in news reports, particularly around Ghost Month 鬼月. Taiwanese media engage in an annual outpouring of overly sensationalized stories about haunted places—and hospitals, as liminal spaces of birth and death, often appear in such reports, complicating research into the real story of what went on.

Yuanlin Hospital in deep afternoon
Deep afternoon at an infamous abandoned hospital in Yuanlin, Taiwan.
At the entrance of an old hospital in Yuanlin
At the entrance to the old hospital. Some effort has been undertaken to seal the building but this was obviously undone long ago.

Notoriety is a curse for urban explorers interested in experiencing a genuine sense of what a place was like before it was abandoned to the elements. Yuanlin Hospital is far from unspoiled—almost everything of value and interest has been stripped out of the interior and the walls are covered with adolescent graffiti (most of which has been carefully cropped out of my photos).

The lobby of Yuanlin Hospital
This scene is the first thing you’ll see when you step inside the lobby.

Although this hospital is located on the edge of town it is immediately adjacent to a busy schoolyard—and you can be sure that kids regularly dare one another to enter the “haunted” hospital, play pranks, and spread rumours. Some half-hearted effort was undertaken to seal the building long ago but it is now effortless to walk inside if you know the location. Bizarrely, several news reports I’ve perused openly list the address of the hospital, inviting members of the public to take a look for themselves. Yuanlin Hospital is far from secret but it is not without a certain vintage charm.

Wishing you a quick recovery
On the left side of the lobby is a counter with the phrase “wishing you a quick recovery” (祝早日康復) emblazoned overhead.
Is medical imaging right for you?
Is medical imaging right for you?
Happy clean teeth
Clean and happy toothpaste 快樂潔牙營.
Ascending to the top of Yuanlin Hospital
Ascending to the upper levels of the abandoned Yuanlin Hospital.
On the sheltered rooftop of Yuanlin Hospital
A lone chair on the sheltered rooftop of the ruined hospital. Playground sounds from the school next door made this place much less creepy than it looks in pictures.

Minor misgivings aside, Yuanlin Hospital is a fine example of the institutional aesthetics of the KMT authoritarian era, all reinforced concrete, angular ironwork, and patterned tile. The teal paint running along the corridors should be familiar to anyone who has visited any of the nation’s historic military villages. You might not feel like you’re the first person to set foot in this place in years but it’s still worth a visit if you’re interested in urban exploration in Taiwan.

Roots invading Yuanlin Hospital
Roots invade the old hospital.
Rusty ironwork in Yuanlin Hospital
Rusty ironwork on the third floor of the hospital.
Coming down from the top floor of Yuanlin Hospital
Coming down from the top floor.
Stalking the corridors of Yuanlin Hospital
Stalking the deserted corridors of Yuanlin Hospital.

As for what really happened here, it sounds like this hospital was doomed by government inefficiency rather than anything sordid like medical malpractice or embezzlement. From what I understand the hospital was originally owned and operated by the Changhua County Health Bureau 彰化縣衛生局. After it was closed property rights were transferred to what is now the city of Yuánlín 員林, and I suppose they’ve just taken their sweet time getting around to redeveloping the site. Recent news reports suggest it will be turned into an activity center some day.

Light seeps into the back of Yuanlin Hospital
Light seeps in from the back of the hospital. There were many rooms just like this one stripped of almost anything of interest.
Infectious disease protocol
Infectious disease protocol.
Hand washing station
Hand washing station.
Speckled walls in Yuanlin Hospital
Mud-speckled walls on the back side of the hospital. Heavy rain or run-off from the roof is likely the cause of this unusual pattern.
Tortured window blinds
Tortured window blinds coiled around a column. This hospital has endured exposure to all manner of typhoons over the years.
The former operation room
The former operating room devoid of almost anything of interest. There was a small observation window on the other side, unseen in this photograph.
A discarded latex glove in an abandoned hospital
Discarded latex glove and broken glass.
Nothing left in the office at Yuanlin Hospital
Nothing much left in the office.
Random artifacts inside Yuanlin Hospital
Medical waste.
Where the teal paint came from
Where the teal paint came from.
Vintage no smoking sign at Yuanlin Hospital
Vintage no smoking sign in the hallway.
Ghost in the mirror at Yuanlin Hospital
Ghost in an exposed mirror on the balcony.
Sunlight seeping into the x-ray room
Sunlight seeping into the X-ray room.
Entrance to the x-ray room at Yuanlin Hospital
Entrance to the X-ray chamber (X光室). I’m guessing the characters below are probably the name of a doctor or technician, Lài Qīnrén 賴欽仁.
The x-ray room inside Yuanlin Hospital
Inside the mosquito-infested X-ray room. There were some interesting artifacts inside the back room but it wasn’t pleasant being there.
Blue scrubs at Yuanlin Hospital
Blue scrubs at Yuanlin Hospital. The logo is composed of six characters: 縣立員林醫院.

In a curious coincidence Yuanlin Hospital has been in the news since I visited earlier this month. Police received panicked reports about someone hanging themselves inside the hospital only weeks after I was there—and in Changhua 彰化 suicide by hanging is an extremely serious issue, necessitating a unique purification ritual known in Taiwanese as sàng bah-tsàng 送肉粽 (see my post about Daodong Academy 道東書院 in nearby Héměi 和美 for more about this practice).

Drug dispensary at Yuanlin Hospital
Downstairs at the dispensary. Please wait until your number is called…

Luckily there was no hangingit was a prop from the filming of an episode of the television drama series Love, Timeless 鐘樓愛人. The crew had left a dummy hanging in the hallway and a concerned parent had seen it while walking their kid to school. This strikes me as being rather irresponsible given local beliefs about hanging—but whatever, the news media ate it up.

The tiled corridors of Yuanlin Hospital
Around the bend at Yuanlin Hospital. This corridor runs along the side of the L-shaped building.
Terminal passageway
Dead end on the ground floor. Directly opposite this exit is a busy schoolyard.
An abandoned ambulance at Yuanlin Hospital
Oh, what have we here?
A cramped look at the abandoned ambulance
A cramped look at the abandoned ambulance.
One last look at Yuanlin Hospital
One last look at Yuanlin Hospital. Don’t expect this to last; the government is planning to build an activity center here in the near future…

For more about Yuanlin Hospital some Taiwanese bloggers have written accounts here (with more photos here) and here (continued in part two here). I also found another post with some great photos that you might like if you were expecting something spooky. A Japanese blogger also wrote about it. Finally, if you enjoyed this post you might like to peruse my write-ups about Xinglin General Hospital in Tainan 台南 or Minxiong Ghost House in Chiayi 嘉義.