Stink at the morgue

PORT OF SPAIN — There is a big unbearable stink at the mortuary of Port of Spain General Hospital.

There are currently three bodies in a decomposed state which have contaminated the entire chiller area, creating a scent so foul it would cause anyone to vomit.

The Express can confirm this after visiting the morgue on Saturday.

On August 17, the refrigeration system of the chiller room where the bodies are kept malfunctioned, causing the bodies to start rotting. The decomposed bodies were moved to an adjoining chiller room.

To date, three bodies are unclaimed (two men and one woman).

All new bodies have to be placed in this chiller where the three decomposed bodies are and which have contaminated the entire area.

More than a week has passed and nothing has been done to remove the decomposed bodies, nor ensure the morgue is a place fit for working.

The Express understands the North West Regional Health Authority board stopped a decision to treat with the situation as an emergency intervention.

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, when contacted, voiced surprise that the problem was not yet solved.

“I had asked that the mortuary be repaired as an emergency measure utilising possibly pre-qualified contracts and hospital in-house staff. I thought the repair was happening, I am extremely surprised that it has not been done as an emergency measure. It’s sad what has occurred and I hope to have it done as fast as possible,” said Khan.

“I know there have been problems with the project management unit and I hope they see this is an emergency,” he added.

Khan said he was given assurances by NWRHA management that the mortuary would be fixed, as the Funeral Association complained about the morgue’s deplorable conditions and there was no proper viewing or mourning area for relatives to see the deceased.

Khan, a medical doctor, said he himself could not understand how mortuary staff were being forced to work under such stench and conditions.

Sources told the Express that after the refrigeration system malfunctioned, on August 19 a number of officials visited the morgue and saw first-hand the unbearable state of affairs. Those on the site visit included the NWRHA chief executive officer, chief operational officer, acting hospital administrator and service manager, among others.

The Express understands the team could not stomach the scent of the morgue’s environs and they were unable to go inside the chiller area where the decomposed and other bodies were kept.

“They realised it was a very bad situation, when relatives come to the mortuary to view their deceased there isn’t a viewing area for them, they have to go inside that chill room where all the other bodies are and where there is that stink smell,” said a source.

After the visit last Monday, three days later, on Thursday, instructions were given that the morgue area be cleared to facilitate repairs and improvement works. Works were promised to be started at 6 a.m. the next day. Nothing happened. (Express)

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