Oakland County morgue housing hospital overflow due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ice arenas could potentially serve as morgues in worst case scenario

PONTIAC, Mich. – A health system in Oakland County has reached its morgue capacity, and is now housing overflow coronavirus (COVID-19) patients’ bodies in refrigerated units onsite at the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“When you look at a hospital morgue system some only have the capacity of storing four bodies, maybe six,” said Casimir Miarka, Administrator of the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.

On top of the small capacity funeral homes are having a hard time keeping up with the demand, which means pickups are not as speedy as they usually are.

Oakland County planned for this. The medical examiner’s office already has two refrigerated units onsite which can house up to 44 additional bodies. It is more than likely the capacity it has on hand will be more than sufficient.

However, they’re planning for a worst case scenario which would mean a local ice rink would serve as a temporary morgue.

Ice arenas option

“An ice arena is the last thing we would ever want to do but in the event that it reaches that we are speaking to a couple different ice arenas about the use of that as a provisional morgue,” Miarka said.

Right now, those overflow patients from the hospital are being handled strictly by hospital staff and funeral home staff who will handle the transfer at the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Medical examiner staff will continue to only handle their own cases, although they are testing all bodies that come through their doors for COVID-19.

Related: All Oakland County workers who have contact with public must now wear masks


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