A California hospital is being criticized for leaving the bodies of nearly 20 COVID-19 patients lying outside in the rain before security guards could eventually move them to a refrigerated morgue.
Soaking wet body bags are seen piled up outside the Los Angeles-based Memorial Hospital of Gardena, owned by Pipeline Health System, in footage captured by CBSLA. Employees are also seen in the footage rearranging the body bags of 19 deceased COVID-19 patients and carrying them into a mobile freezer in the hospital’s parking lot.
A morgue inside the hospital could only hold six bodies, which has posed difficulties throughout the pandemic, a hospital spokesperson told CBSLA.
The spokesperson added that the mobile freezer outside the hospital is kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the necessary temperature to store the bodies, and denied that the bodies were left out in the rain.
‘Because of the overcrowding situation, hospital administrators took action yesterday to organize the outdoor cooling unit in a more orderly fashion,’ Memorial Hospital of Gardena wrote in a statement to CBSLA.
‘Hospital protocol calls upon security guards to assist in the process when mortuaries come to pick up bodies, primarily helping to lift and move the bodies,’ the statement continued.
However, a witness recalled watching teary-eyed employees carrying the bodies into the freezer in a recent downpour.
‘Security had tears in their eyes. They’re crying. Some of the security had to leave because they got fluid on their clothes when they did move the bodies,’ the anonymous witness told the news outlet.
The witness referred to what appeared to be body fluids on the bags and said there was no way the bodies were being stored at an adequate temperature. ‘Impossible. Those bodies were defrosted. They were decomposing,’ she said.
It is not clear how long the bodies were left outside before the were transferred, but the hospital confirmed that it has kept bodies in its mobile freezer for months at a time.
The hospital also claimed that 11 of the 19 people whose bodies were seen being transferred were not claimed by family members and Los Angeles County has yet to pick them up.
Source: Daily Mail