Upgraded Morgue at KHMH for Increased Capacity Print E-mail
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Written by The Guardian   
Thursday, 31 May 2012 00:00

(Far left) Doctors Gary Longsworth and Hugh SanchezIt was a proud moment for managers and staff members at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on Wednesday May 30th when it officially opened its new morgue facilities to the public.

After receiving much criticism from the public for not having enough space to hold bodies, the KHMH, which is the only medical facility in Belize City that has a morgue, stepped up its mandate to address the problem. Over months of work that started in October of last year, the morgue at the KHMH went from an inadequate one, to one which is next to being state- of-the-art. According to the Chief Executive Officer of the institution, Dr. Gary Longsworth, the carrying capacity for the morgue has gone up from 9 to 21.

The morgue now features the original unit (with carrying capacity of 9),  which was refurbished along with a unit with a carrying capacity of 12 (The smaller unit will be solely dedicated to police work and the other to the hospital and other users). It also has a viewing room, a waiting area and the area outside the morgue has been enclosed to prevent passersby from peering into the activities at the morgue. Also, the autopsy room has been refurbished and has been moved away from the storage units. Dr. Longsworth says there is now no need for the public to venture into the morgue itself as the facility has been upgraded for a better experience for clients.

While the morgue has been upgraded, there will also be modification to the fees being charged. According to Dr. Longsworth, the fees are being justified to be able to cover additional utility expenses and the use of body bags, which will now become a standard. Everybody that is taken into the morgue will be secured in a body bag to prevent infection from within and outside of the hospital. The fees then, will be separated into two categories: public and private cases. Private cases are those that originate from the KHMH, other regional hospitals or from the police. If family members acquire the services of undertakers, then it becomes a private case. The current fee for public cases is 25 dollars for the first three days and 50 dollars for any additional days. That fee will be adjusted to 50 dollars a day across the board. Private cases used to be 50 dollars a day; that will be adjusted to be 75 dollars a day. The morgue also charges a handling fee which stood at 50 dollars and will be increased to 100 dollars. Longsworth explained that it cost 150 thousand dollars to bring the morgue up to the standard where it is at with the new refrigeration unit costing 100 thousand dollars alone. This was financed by the Ministry of Health. Additional expenses were taken up by the KHMH from is annual budget and revenue stream. Longsworth concluded that he did not consider the new fees unreasonable given the standards that they are trying to attain.  He asked that the public who use the morgue to pay for the services rendered in order to maintain the facilities.

One undertaker we spoke with, Roy Lamb, explained that he was pleased with the new facilities and stated that it was "a friendly environment where family members can view their loved ones."