Montgomery County morgue overwhelmed by opioid overdoses

Posted at 7:57 AM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 08:05:29-05

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. -- The opioid epidemic has created a problem in an unusual spot for parts of Indiana -- the morgues. 

Typically, bodies in Montgomery County, Indiana are kept at Franciscan Health, a hospital in Crawfordsville. But only two bodies can be stored at a time, and a rise of overdoses means there simply isn't enough room.

Montgomery County coroner Darren Forman has recorded 11 opioid-related deaths in 2017, after just four overdose deaths last year. There was one death by heroin intoxication in 2015.

"One of the problems with the opioid crisis is that these kids are younger," Forman said. 

A young person's death creates more backlogs at the morgue. Most parents and children don't have a conversation about what to do in case of a death, like you would with an older person. This leads to bodies staying at the morgue longer while families make arrangements.

"Our "backup" -- if you will -- has always been Tippecanoe County or Marion County," Forman said. "With their capacities but they're full as well."

The Montgomery County Council recently approved Forman's request for a county-owned cooler that will allow storage for up to eight bodies.

Karen Branch, the executive director of the Youth Service Bureau, says kids growing up in homes with substance abuse problems creates instability.

"The more adverse childhood experiences a child ha0,s the more likely they are to have mental health and physical problems as they grow into adulthood," Branch said. 

The county's new morgue will cost around $8,000 and be stored in a building owned by the City of Crawfordsville. If everything goes to plan, the morgue will be ready by the third week of January. 

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