Investigation into makeshift morgue at Beaumont Wayne reveals 50 bodies in vacant building

It all started with a call to the Wayne County Health Department claiming bodies were being inappropriately stored at the now-shuttered Beaumont Wayne Hospital.
It all started with a call to the Wayne County Health Department claiming bodies were being inappropriately stored at the now-shuttered Beaumont Wayne Hospital.

WAYNE, Mich. – It all started with a call to the Wayne County Health Department claiming bodies were being inappropriately stored at the now-shuttered Beaumont Wayne Hospital.

UPDATE: City denies claim that it approved temporary morgue for COVID-19 deaths at Beaumont Wayne Hospital

When health inspectors went to check it out on Tuesday they were turned away from the hospital and told they would need a warrant.

READ: Beaumont Health laying off 2,475, eliminating about 450 positions due to ‘dire financial effects’ of COVID-19

After a series of phone calls the hospital backed off the warrant request. Health Department inspectors, along with Wayne County sheriff’s deputies, were allowed on the property.

Bill Nowling, Wayne County Spokesman released the following statement:

“Yesterday the Wayne County Health Division received a report that Beaumont Wayne was storing dead bodies in a vacant building on its campus. After being initially turned away by the hospital administrators today, county health inspectors were allowed access to the building and discovered a makeshift morgue in operation containing approximately 50 bodies. The Wayne County Health Division has launched an investigation to determine whether county health ordinances were violated by the hospital system.”

Mark Geary, the Director of External Communications and Media Relations for Beaumont released the following:

"In early April, as the COVID-19 crisis peaked, Beaumont obtained approvals from the City of Wayne’s Department of Community Development and Planning, Building Department and Fire Marshall to convert part of a warehouse into a temporary morgue. Once we obtained approval, we worked quickly to ensure that part of the warehouse space could serve this temporary purpose in a safe, appropriate and respectful way. Beaumont continues to use the rest of the warehouse to store much needed supplies we distribute to our hospitals across metro Detroit.

Today, without advanced notice, without being able to explain their purpose, and without appropriately fitting PPE to protect themselves from the coronavirus, various individuals demanded entry into the warehouse. These individuals were later shown photographs of the temporary morgue setup. The purpose of their visit remains unclear."

Last week, Beaumont Wayne announced that the hospital had no patients. Officials said the remaining coronavirus (COVID-19) patients were either discharged or transferred to other hospitals last Tuesday.

Beaumont said some staff members were moved to other hospitals or laid off. The hospital is expected to remain a COVID-19-only hospital in case there is another surge in cases.

READ: Michigan representatives condemn temporary closure of Beaumont Wayne in midst of COVID-19 pandemic


About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.