Bodies Were Sent From Hospital in Back of Pickup

Unacceptable, Philadelphia authorities say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2020 8:48 AM CDT
Bodies Were Sent From Hospital in Back of Pickup
In this Sunday, April 19, 2020, photo, as city workers look on, left, the driver of a pickup truck, far right back to camera, pulls a body he brought along with several others to the Joseph W. Spellman Medical Examiner Building parking lot in Philadelphia.   (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(Newser) – Pandemic or no pandemic, bodies should not be moved from hospitals to the medical examiner's office in the back of a pickup truck, say officials in Philadelphia—who confirmed that very thing happened. A Philadelphia Inquirer photographer saw the truck arrive Sunday with seven bodies in the back. The photographer saw the driver walk over the bagged bodies after climbing into the cargo bed to unload them. The Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia says the bodies were being moved from the hospital to an overflow storage area at the examiner's office, where there are three refrigerated trailers that can collectively hold up to 120 bodies. It's not clear whether the bodies were of people who died from COVID-19.

Philadelphia Department of Health rep James Garrow says moving bodies in that manner is an unacceptable "breach of protocol," CNN reports. A spokesman for the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network tells CNN that after an investigation of the incident, "we swiftly ended our contract with the funeral home responsible for this occurrence." "As a hospital in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Philadelphia, we understand these unprecedented healthcare challenges, and all patients should be treated with respect and dignity at every stage and this should never happen," the spokesman says. Garrow says protocols are in place to ensure bodies are treated with respect and authorities "strongly reminded the referring hospital of the existing protocols," the AP reports. (Read more Philadelphia stories.)

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