30 bodies unclaimed
About 30 corpses have been left unclaimed in the morgue of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for more than a year.
And yesterday, Minister of Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde asked Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic: “What plans does the hospital have for those bodies to be removed and what arrangements can be made with undertakers to freeze those bodies and ease the tension at the hospital?”
Raising the matter during the Estimates debate, Forde suggested some of the bodies may have been abandoned by families who could not afford to bury them and were depending on the Government to do so. But she also contended there were other families who deliberately chose not to claim the bodies of their loved ones, leaving it up to the Government to take on the burial expenses, while they went after property left behind by the deceased.
“How is the hospital coping with all those corpses in the morgue with so many people dying every day,” the St Thomas MP asked as Bostic and his team were being questioned in the Well of the House of Assembly.
‘Alarmed at numbers’
Confirming Forde’s claim, the Minister of Health acknowledged there was a problem and that he had received a list of the corpses from the hospital.
“I was really alarmed at the numbers,” Bostic said, adding that he had discussed it with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. He gave the assurance that “deliberations” on the matter had been started with a view to crafting a policy that would be deal with it “at a national level”.
Hospital chairman Juliette Sutherland-Bynoe told Forde there would need to be an “inter-ministerial approach” to the problem, which she suggested “lends itself well to public/ private sector partnerships”.
“We may have to use burials in non-traditional ways, but we must ensure that people are treated with dignity at this important stage of their journey,” Sutherland-Bynoe added. (GC)