DANGRIGA, Stann Creek District, Tues. Apr. 2, 2019– The freezing system at the morgue at the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga is malfunctioning, and this has led to poor storage of bodies that are placed at the facility. We were informed that bodies placed in storage for burial at a later date are decomposing, and the loved ones of the deceased persons whose bodies are stored there are being urged to take out the bodies and bury them immediately. In some cases the hospital has taken the bodies to another facility for storage.
Karen Lewis told the media that her mother, Juliana Palacio Castillo, 79, died in the Southern Regional Hospital, and when they retrieved the body to prepare it for burial they found it was in an advanced state of decomposition. She said that due to the state of the corpse the undertaker was strongly against opening the coffin, and so family and friends were not able to see their loved one for a last time. This devastated the family and Lewis has made an official complaint to the Ministry of Health and is taking action to sue the hospital and the ministry.
Lewis said that she came to Belize from the United States four days after her mother died, to bury her, and that was when a nurse from the hospital called and urged them to move their mother’s body to another hospital. She said that a relative went to the hospital to see what was happening and saw that that the freezing system was not working and their mother’s body was beginning to decompose.
The administrator told them that when the freezer is on, ice accumulates and causes a blockage in the system. The administrator said the freezer must be plugged out until the ice thaws, and they have to do this frequently.
Karen Lewis said that they are still hurting over what happened, how the body of their loved one was not handled with dignity by those in charge, whose job it is to do so. She said she prays that no other family goes through the horrible experience they endured.
The Regional Manager of hospitals in that area said that the hospital administration understands the family’s sentiments. She said that the hospital called the family to ask them to take the body, since they suspected that there was a problem. The hospital told the media that the situation is being addressed and that technicians have been called in to assess and repair the system.