NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some funeral directors say they are working around the clock to keep up with demand, and they need help.
They’re asking the city’s medical examiner’s office to extend its hours.
The insurmountable death toll caused by the coronavirus has some funeral homes handling what would be a month’s worth of work in one week.
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A Brooklyn funeral director who did not want to be identified says the process is taking painstakingly longer at the medical examiner’s office, which is only open during business hours.
“It takes at least an hour and a half, sometimes two hours to retrieve the body,” the funeral director said.
Another funeral director told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner this delays staff from picking up other bodies from hospitals.
Another who requested anonymity and said now with COVID, three city employees are involved in the retrieval process, including a pathologist, which is physician that studies the cause of death.
Sometimes it takes hours to get one.
“You will identify the body and then after identifying body, the funeral director and the morgue technician, they have to bring a pathologist to also identify the body,” the woman said.
All the while, they are trying to respect meetings made with loved ones, which are usually during daytime hours.
“I tell them to be there at 12 noon so they can see their loved one. So you’re going to send a director there at 8 o’clock in the morning,” one funeral director said. “The director’s getting back maybe a quarter to 12, sometimes they don’t even make it back in time.”
The city says the office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. seven days a week, and it takes calls until 8 p.m. It’s also in the process of hiring “trained quality specialists.”
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For now, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is asking the city to extend the hours until midnight.
“They need to understand we’re in a crisis,” Adams said.
After receiving photos showing bodies strewn about, he’s also asking the city install shelves and lighting in mobile mortuaries to easily identify bodies.
The city claims there is also a hotline funeral directors can call for any issues, but none of the funeral directors who spoke to CBS2 knew about it.