The family of a Belize City Council supervisor, Adam Kuylen, 38, are furious over what they have classified as inhumane and disrespectful and a downright breach of basic procedure by the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital after Kuylen, who was found dead in his bed, was not put on “ice” at the hospital, but put in a “secondary” storage unit, which led to the body deteriorating to an advanced stage of decomposition.
The pathologist, the family told us, explained to the family that due to the advanced state of decomposition of Kuylen’s body, a conclusive post-mortem would not be possible.
The family has also told us that they plan on suing not only the KHMH, but also GOB.
Vince Vasquez, Jr., Kuylen’s cousin, told us that on Friday night, August 12, at approximately 9:00 o’clock he entered Kuylen’s room, where he thought he was sleeping, only to find out that he had in fact died.
Vasquez, along with his mother and father and City Councilor Eric Chang, who is Kuylen’s boss and friend, went to the hospital to certify his death and put him in a proper storage facility.
Upon their arrival at the morgue, however, there was no employee present and they had to wait an entire hour before two hospital employees came to assist them.
“Two employees came in a white uniform and opened [the morgue]; they pushed and pulled him inside and I guess we couldn’t enter from the threshold of the door; you would think that they would put the body into a freezer,” said Vasquez.
Kuylen’s family learnt on Saturday morning during their visit to the KHMH that Kuylen’s body had been left in the open atmosphere overnight and had already begun to decompose.
“Based on the viewing of the person doing the autopsy, he, the doctor, said that the body is so decomposed that it is inconclusive to even find a proper reason for death; we came to find out that we cannot even give him a proper burial at a church.
“It’s heartbreaking. My cousin was a hard worker and he deserves more than just a hole and to just be dropped in there, you know,” Vasquez said.
What is even more hurtful for them, family members told us, is that Kuylen’s body, on Saturday, was put into a freezer at the morgue that allegedly contained human parts and garbage. “They pushed him in some freezer and this freezer was filled with pure trash, garbage, and placenta – parts that needed to be disposed of.
“So they just basically put him in a trash can. That is just very disrespectful. I don’t know what else to say about that. Just put yourself in our position,” said Vasquez.
Kuylen, we were told by his family, was to be buried tomorrow, Tuesday, and his wake was to be held tonight, since his other family members were expected to arrive from the United States between today and tomorrow, but that did not happen.
Today, as our interview at the KHMH morgue was being concluded, two busloads of City Council employees, friends and colleagues of Kuylen arrived to pay their respects to their lost friend. They all accompanied the grieving family to bury Kuylen – the state of the body did not permit them to wait until tomorrow.
Vincent Vasquez, Sr., told us, “He was out there working hard, and for a city employee to be treated like that, it’s even more disrespectful. What we have to say is, we are going to sue the government, and we are going to sue the hospital; we are going after them now.”
After our interview at the KHMH with the family, a representative of the hospital who had been explaining the procedures of the hospital for the benefit of members of the media who were conducting interviews, was confronted by Kuylen’s family about the type of negligence that led to the early decomposition of their loved one’s body.
The KHMH has since issued a release on the issue of Kuylen’s decomposed body: The release stated that Kuylen had died “at an undetermined time earlier in the day” and was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on Friday at 9:57 p.m. and pronounced dead on arrival.
It went on to say, “The body was then transported to the KHMH morgue, which unfortunately was filled to capacity, so after a delay of some hours the body was transferred to the secondary storage unit on the hospital compound.
“The body subsequently decomposed at an accelerated rate and this rendered an autopsy which was scheduled for today, August 15, 2011, impractical. The body was therefore released for immediate burial.”
The release concluded by stating: “The KHMH apologizes for any emotional distress caused to the family by this incident and assures the public that efforts to upgrade the facilities are continuing and that additional measures will be put in place to prevent a re-occurrence of such an incident.”
Kuylen worked for the City Council for 12 years within the Sanitation Department, where he mostly worked double shifts. Kuylen had not had any known health issues that could have led to his untimely death, his family said.
According to a co-worker of Kuylen, “He was well-loved.”