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Some hospitals forced to expand morgues due to COVID-19

Morgue truck
Posted at 6:15 AM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 07:15:25-04

TULSA, Okla. — Increased COVID-19 rates and mortality in our community are forcing some area hospitals to expand their resources and capacity.

For certain hospitals like Hillcrest Hospital South, that includes expanding the size of the morgue by using refrigerated trucks.

Periodically, during the pandemic where there have been massive surges of COVID patients, hospitals are seeing mortality rates go up.

“In those scenarios, there is a lot of pressure not only on hospitals but on our funeral home partners and so it’s really important for us to help them out as well and in that case, we have had to situationally expand the size of our morgue to support them so we can transition patients and loved ones appropriately," says Bennett Geister, CEO for Hillcrest South.

Before COVID-19, hospitals, in general, had the resources to deal with death and places to put loved ones until the time was right for them to be transferred to a funeral home. Now with the increased number of Covid deaths, Hillcrest Hospital South, CEO, Bennett Geister says they are having to resort to using refrigerated trucks at times.

"The reason why is because we are seeing a much broader, demographic of patients who are succumbing to this variant, and so it puts more pressure on everybody from a throughput standpoint to address not only the care they get in the hospital but then taking care of the family in the unfortunate scenario that patients pass away," says Geister.

He wants to stress that every hospital morgue is different in terms of capacity and that this is situational, and really depends on how high the mortality rate is at any given time.

"The higher the mortality rate is the more pressure there is on hospitals all over our community," he says.

Geister says the best way that the community can help area hospitals is to get the vaccine.

2 News Oklahoma reached out to St. Francis and Ascension St. John. Currently, Ascension St. John is not using refrigerated trucks to expand its morgue.

At press time, it was unclear if St. Francis' morgue was at capacity

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