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#439341 - 05/31/12 01:47 PM Morgue gets upgraded and increases space
Marty Offline

The morgue at the nation’s referral hospital has gone through a major renovation. In a onetime deal, the media was allowed in this morning to view the improvements made to the unit at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. The facility now has more capacity, is more efficient and grieving family members will have access to a viewing room. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The decay of the K.H.M.H. morgue can be seen in these recent pictures. The morgue itself is hidden at the rear of the hospital and even the C.E.O. admits that it was unsightly.

Francis Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H.

“The morgue, when I came to the K.H.M.H. was in a deplorable condition. We had to take a lot of stop-gap measures to keep it running and so on. But we realized fairly soon that we would need to do a major renovation; number one, and that we would need to increase capacity. We found that with only nine units, we were spilling over into our secondary storage from time to time.”

But this morning, the C.E.O., Francis Gary Longsworth and Pathologist, Doctor Hugh Sanchez explained the details of a recent renovation that also meant implementing practical strategies.

Dr. Hugh Sanchez, Pathologist, K.H.M.H.

“We have improved significantly the whole atmosphere of the morgue, the autopsy room, the storage facility and the viewing room. The viewing room was in place from the hospital was built, but it was never used. In fact it was a storage facility for me. But with the new operation, we have cleaned out and we have renovated and we have the viewing room now where the body can be viewed from the outside room. The point I am trying to make is that there is no more need for the public to come inside the morgue. They will go to the viewing area which is where the waiting area is and they can look through the glass and see their loved ones.”

But there is a cost to dying. C.E.O. Longsworth said that the price tag of the renovation also has a bearing on the cost of the operation of the unit.

Francis Gary Longsworth

“We approached the Ministry of Health and we got funding for a new unit eventually and I think this was driven by public demands and concerns from the public and that is a good thing—that it drove the process of getting this work done. So we got funding from the Ministry to buy the unit. This unit actually cost approximately fifty thousand U.S. or a hundred thousand Belize. For the other changes that we’ve done. We’ve spent comfortably another fifty thousand dollars. So we’ve conservatively spent a hundred and fifty thousand dollars on these renovations.”

Jose Sanchez

“Now with all of these renovations, there must be a price that will trickle down to the people who must use this facility. Are there any changes to cost?”

Francis Gary Longsworth

“Yes. As I explained earlier, the major increased cost will have to be with the utility cost—the air-conditioning running the additional unit—and the use of body bags as a standard for the facility. We have separated fees into public and private fees. Private fees will be obtained whenever a family or client takes out a contract for service with one of the private undertakers. The public fees were initially twenty-five dollars per day for the first three days and then fifty dollars per day thereafter. With the increased cost, we are now standardizing public fees at fifty dollars per day, plus a onetime fee of hundred dollars—up from fifty dollars—for handling and storage within the unit.”

Doctor Sanchez says he attends to about twelve to thirteen clients per month, which gives him adequate storage space.

Jose Sanchez

“Is there a specific temperature that must be held; I see there is a gauge up top?”

Hugh Sanchez

“Yes. Both units must be kept at a temperature of about seven degrees centigrade and above that is considered problematic. We keep it there and that will keep the body for at least a week or two. The new unit has the capacity of twelve and the same temperature range; sixteen degrees Fahrenheit.”

Jose Sanchez

“So that’s twenty-one bodies total. Did you foresee that there would be a need for more units or is this adequate?”

Hugh Sanchez

“I would think it’s adequate at this point in time; it has not been exceeded as yet.”

The police department also has a unit for its use.

Channel 5


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#439342 - 05/31/12 01:48 PM Re: Morgue gets upgraded and increases space [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

KHMH, A Great Place To Live If You're Dead

When we report on Belize's high murder rate, and high mortality rate for traffic accidents - apart from the initial trauma, there's another side to that story, and it's the issue of where all the dead are stored.

Truth is, the morgue at the KHMH has been functioning at a level far above which it was originally designed for - and on some deadly weekends - storing all the dead can become problematic.

But lately the KHMH administration has been making significant changes in that area of the hospital. We found out more today:

Robin Schaffer Reporting

Many would agree that the morgue at the KHMH has been functioning at a level far above which it was originally designed for - especially with the upsurge in fatal accidents and murders in the past years.

But lately they are some significant changes being done to that particular area of the hospital.

Today the media were all invited to tour a roomy, refurbished and gleaming new morgue.

One of the most important new features is the new storage Unit with a capacity of individual storage of up to 12 bodies. While the refitted original storage unit -which will now be used for police cases only -has a capacity to hold nine bodies.

There is also a new ramp canopy, a comfortable waiting area for visitors, renovations of the viewing room, the entrance way and the autopsy room - which now has a new stainless steel, locally manufactured autopsy table.

Dr. Hugh Sanchez - Ministry of Health
"It has long been overdue, and as the prime user of the facility, I am impressed. When I compare it with Jamaica, I think that we have exceeded it by far. In fact, the storage area is air-conditioned. That's a big plus, so I want to say thanks to the administration for upgrading our facility, and you will agree that it looks nice,"

Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth - CEO, KHMH
"I think that in order to appreciate what we've done, you'd probably have to see before and after pictures. It's completely changed from what existed before. Our storage capacity has been increased from 9 bodies to 21 bodies, and that's the major change. Apart from that, we've opened out the storage area. We've improved the autopsy room, making it bigger. We have re-equip the autopsy room with new sinks, and a new table. Everything is air-conditioned throughout, and this is for preservation of the bodies, as well as comfort of the people who have to work here. The entire place has gotten a facelift. Areas that were not in use before are now in use, for instance, the viewing area. This had not been in use for years, and so people had to traffic in an out to view bodies in this area or over there. Now, we have put it back into use. There was not a waiting room for visitors. We have constructed it, basically, made it into a waiting area. We have put an office for our morgue technician to do his documentation and to interact with the public. We have covered a ramp and put a privacy screen, a trellis for privacy from the road. I used to be appalled when I would see families grieving out in the hot sun, and everybody staring at them from the road. You know; interviews used to take place through the fence and that kind of thing. We've changed all of that."

The funds that were used to refurbish the morgue came from the hospital's annual budget and from revenue collection.

Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth
"Conservatively, we have spent $150,000 BZ on this project. The new unit alone is approximately $100,000. It's made from the finest grade steel. It was chosen for the material for the amenities - the individual storage - and also for ease of maintenance. The cooling unit is on the roof of the unit, and you can detach it, remove it for servicing, and replace it without having access the unit itself. So all of those things were factored in when we chose that unit."

There will be some adjustments to the fees charged for the morgue's use.

Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth
"We are going to go with routine use of body bags, single-use body bags for all bodies. This is both for infection control within the hospital and from outside. We'll have restrictions concerning unauthorized photography because we've received reports of unauthoritized pictures out in the public domain, which we have nothing to do with, but again, we take the blame when these things happen. There will actually be a physical barrier placed at this entrance here so that people without authority cannot get into that area. In terms of the increase in fees, I consider them quite acceptable. Initially, we've made a separation between public cases and private cases. Public cases are those that come to us from within our hospital, from the regional hospitals, from the police, and so on. If the family takes a contract with a private undertaker, it becomes a private case. Once it becomes a private case, we have asked the undertakers to please separate your fees from our fees. So, we'll have a separation of fees so that people will understand clearly what the hospital's charges are vs what the undertaker's charges are. The public fees used to be $25 for the first 3 days, and $50 per day after. We are now standardizing that at $50 per day to cover the increased utility costs and the use of body bags. That's for the public cases. For the private cases, it used to be $50 a day from day 1, it's going to $75 a day, and there is a handling and storage fee that used to be $50, one payment for the entire time that you are here. That is now going to $100. As I said when I spoke earlier, we know that it costs a lot to bury the dead, but we don't consider these fees unreasonable, given the standards that we're trying to attain and maintain."

The new storage unit cost of 49,000 US dollars - that has a capacity for 12 bodies, and the old refitted unit can hold nine bodies.

Channel 7


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#439354 - 05/31/12 02:00 PM Re: Morgue gets upgraded and increases space [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


KMHK morgue gets top-notch renovation

The morgue at the KHMH has been newly renovated. This is news worthy especially after complaints about no space in the Belize City morgue for bodies. In fact, in August of 2011, it made the news when a family was distraught after the body of thie loved one was decomposed because of no space in the morgue. Because of the decomposition of the body, there was never an autopsy conducted and the cause of death was left as a mystery to the family. Dr. Francis Longworth, KHMH CEO, says that the morgue was operating at a level far beyond what it was created for, especially with the surge of murders. But now, Dr. Longworth describes the changes as comprehensive after consultations were done at every level. One of the most important features, Longworth says is that the new storage area has the capacity to store up to 12 bodies while the refitted storage area can hold up to 9 bodies.

Dr. Francis Longworth, CEO, KHMH

It has completely changed from what existed before. Our storage capacity has been increased from nine bodies to twenty-one bodies. That’s the major change. Apart from that we have opened out the storage area and we have improved the autopsy room and made it better; we have re-equipped the autopsy room with new sinks and new tables. Everything is air-conditioned throughout and this is for the preservation of the bodies as well as comfort of the people who work here. The entire place has gotten a facelift.

With the new upgrades, Longsworth says Belize now has one of the best morgues in the region even when compared to places like Jamaica.

Dr. Francis Longworth
Areas that were not in use before are now in use; for instance the viewing area - this has not been in use for years. People had to traffic in and out to view bodies in this area; now we have put it back in use. There was not a waiting room for visitors, but we have contracted it, opened up that area and made it into a waiting area. We have put in an office for our morgue technician to do his documentation and to interact with the public. We have covered the ramp and put a privacy screen from the road. I used to be appalled when I would see families grieving out in the hot sun and everyone staring at them from the road and interviews used to take place through the fence and that kind of thing.

Dr. Longsworth says that, conservatively speaking, the cost of the renovations is at least one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. While there are changes within the actual facility, there will also be changes with policy and cost to the public.

Dr. Francis Longworth
We are going to go with routine use of body bags – single use body bags for all bodies. This is both for infection control within the hospital and from outside. In terms of the increase in fees, I consider them quite acceptable. Initially we have made a separation between public cases and private cases. The public fees used to be twenty-five dollars for the first three days and fifty-dollars per day after. We are now just standardizing that at fifty dollars per day to cover the increase utility cost and the use of body bags - that’s for the public cases. For the private cases, it used to be fifty dollars a day from day one; it’s now going to be seventy five dollars a day. There is a handling and storage fee that used to be fifty dollars - one payment, for the entire time that you are here. That is now going to a hundred dollars.

The public can contact the KHMH for information on the increase of fees.

PlusTV


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