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These Photos From Inside An Abandoned Hospital Are The Stuff Of Nightmares

By Linze Rice | December 28, 2016 3:09pm | Updated on December 29, 2016 8:22am
 Mike Kinsch took recent photographs inside the long-shuttered Edgewater Medical Center, which closed in 2001.
Edgewater Medical Center Photos
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EDGEWATER — A photographer's secret trip inside the abandoned Edgewater Medical Center, which closed in 2001, reveals a nightmarish scene of decay, with medical waste bags and crutches strewn about, ghoulish graffiti and even medical records.

Chicagoan Mike Kinsch went into the Ashland Avenue hospital — the birthplace of Hillary Clinton and John Wayne Gacy — on a recent night and documented the chilling scene, posting nearly a hundred photos of what's left.

The hospital closed in 2001 after 72 years serving the neighborhood. A massive Medicare fraud scandal involving some of the medical center's executives and doctors was the fatal blow.

But that hasn't stopped the curious-minded from finding a way into the abandoned buildings at 5700 N. Ashland Ave. despite the fact there is around-the-clock security on-site.

The structure was built in 1929 using funds from John Lewis Cochran's real estate company, one of Edgewater's earliest founders and early developers, according to the Edgewater Historical Society.

Frozen in 2001 and ravaged by time and the elements, the buildings still contain medical records and personal photographs, medical machinery, doctor itineraries, warnings for hazardous waste and much more. 

The photographs snapped by Kinsch show the hospital's current state: flaking paint, graffiti and tagging, shattered tiles, papers strewn about, inches of ice and five to six feet of standing basement water.

Still, Kinsch told DNAinfo he finds a certain beauty in the haunting space. 

"The pool room is absolutely beautiful if you consider abandoned history beautiful," he said. "The most memorable/striking part was definitely feeling like the only one in the building in such a long time. ...I can still vividly remember walking into the 9th floor pool room for the first time and seeing the Chicago's amber colored lights illuminating through the windows."

Death records dating back to the 1990s. [Mike Kinsch]

A portion of the buildings are slated to be demolished and replaced by a passive green space the Chicago Park District will develop using tax-increment financing funds, as the rest is transformed into high-end apartments and parking by MCZ Development

In the meantime, records containing former patients' names, birth dates (and in some cases death records) and other personal information remain in the building, Kinsch said. 

According to Illinois law, hospitals are required to keep medical records for 10 years — even if they close. 

A joint investigation by the Tribune and WGN found that in 2013, many of the records were not destroyed in 2011 as the law permitted. 

In 2014, workers were seen carrying out records by the dumpster-full, though Kinsch's photos show some still remain. 

"I discovered a lot of patient records and abandoned hospital paperwork," Kinsch told DNAinfo. "I remember one of the doctors offices was piled with paperwork and photos of his kids still. It was very creepy to see all of this piled with dust from not moving.

"His office closet was stacked with files boxed titling 'deceased' then the year of the files."

The records are supposed to be removed by the time of demolition.

Kinsch said he and two friends became interested in exploring the abandoned building, a favorite among "urban explorers" in the city, after reading about its history. 

He had explored other places in the past, like the Damen Silos and Brach's Candy Factory, but decided to take his camera along for the first time on the Edgewater Medical Center exploration.

After getting inside, Kinsch said he put on a face mask and walked the icy basement terrain between a blue-tiled hallway which contained rooms for the morgue, mail room, nuclear medicine room and employee lockers.

The majority of the sublevel is filled with thick ice, some even containing five to six feet of water below. 

At times, Kinsch said the ice and water were so high he had about two feet between his head and the ceiling. 

From there he traversed a narrow and "eerie" stairwell up nine flights to the pool room, wall tiles falling and shattering to dust along the way.

In other areas, Kinsch said he saw the intensive care unit, operating rooms, hyperbaric chamber and laboratories. 

After that, Kinsch said his camera died but he continued to explore as he made his way back toward his entry point. 

"I would rate the experience 10/10 of course, only downside was my camera battery died," Kinsch said. "It was definitely worth the anxiety of standing on 2 [inches] of ice over 6 feet of nasty basement water."

Check out Kinsch's photos below. 

All photos provided by Mike Kinsch.

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