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Temporary morgue overflow facility to open in Marion County for expected COVID-19 death surge

Posted at 11:12 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 11:12:47-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A temporary morgue facility will be opening in Marion County to help with the expected surge in COVID-19 patient deaths.

The temporary facility will be used if the hospital morgue becomes overwhelmed over the next several weeks and will be staffed by the Marion County Coroner's Office. It can hold up to 750 bodies.

“Our first priority remains slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring a high level of care for the individuals who may contract it, but protecting the health of our community also means preparing for a potential increase in deaths over the coming weeks” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. “While we hope much of what we are planning for is never needed, we must do everything we can to ensure Indianapolis first responders, health care workers, and coroners all have the tools, personal protective equipment, and facilities they need to serve residents through any scenario.”

The temporary overflow morgue will be available beginning Thursday and will be open for intake 24 hours per day, with funeral homes able to pick up decedents between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“Being prepared to respond to an unprecedented public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic requires a new level of collaboration among public health and public safety agencies,” said Dr. Lee Sloan, Marion County Coroner. “Securing and standing up this temporary overflow morgue is just one example of the ways we are all working together to best provide for the needs of affected families during these challenging times.”

The facility was acquired by a joint partnership between the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD), the Marion County Coroner’s Office, the Managed Emergency Surge for Healthcare (MESH) Coalition, and the City’s Office of Public Health and Safety.

Securing the building was part of ongoing planning and preparation efforts of the public health, safety, and service agencies that are coordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Marion County EOC," the city said in a release. "These agencies are also working to coordinate a site for medical surge, care for individuals experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, and implement and update policies that minimize unnecessary exposure between first responders, health care professionals, and the public."

Other efforts include setting up the drive-through COVID-19 testing for frontline essential employees at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, as well as facilitating procurement and transportation of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and healthcare workers in Marion County.