Morgue gets upgraded and increases space - 05/31/12 01:47 PM
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.”
“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.
“Is there a specific temperature that must be held; I see there is a gauge up top?”
“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.”
“So that’s twenty-one bodies total. Did you foresee that there would be a need for more units or is this adequate?”
“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.