COROZAL DISTRICT, Thurs. Jan. 7, 2021– The family of the late Francisco Cante, who were already grieving his recent death, were further traumatized when there was a mixup at the morgue at the Northern Regional Hospital that resulted in his body being handed over for burial under the name “John Doe” on New Year’s Eve.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, after investigating the matter, released a public statement dated January 6, 2021, outlining the events leading up to this unfortunate mishap. According to their report, on December 24, 2020, the body of an unidentified elderly man was found and labeled “John Doe” by the Police Department before being transported to the Northern Regional Hospital.
Upon the transfer of the unidentified man’s body to the hospital, doctors at the facility pronounced the man dead, and the usual testing procedures were carried out, including swabbing of the body to determine whether the deceased was infected with COVID-19. The police were then instructed to leave the body at the morgue, pending the results of the COVID-19 test.
Subsequently, on December 30, 2020, Cante’s body was taken to the morgue. On January 1, 2021, police officers were contacted and told to come to retrieve the body of “John Doe”, but they were mistakenly given the body of Mr. Cante, and as a result he was buried in an unmarked grave by the Police Department.
The release goes on to state that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had a meeting with the Manager of the Northern Regional Hospital as well as the son of Cante, and that the “erroneous” mix-up is being classified as a procedural error:
“At the conclusion of the meeting, the management of the Northern Regional Hospital determined that there was a procedural error in the steps for the handling and release of the body from the morgue. Recommendations to ensure this does not reoccur has been forwarded to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which includes an immediate revision and resanitization of the morgue policies to all staff. Clear communication channels were also reviewed and agreed on with the police personnel present,” said the release.
Mr. Cante’s body has since been exhumed and buried at a site that was previously acquired for him by his family in San Felipe village.