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LA hospital defends ‘piling up’ bodies outside to due ‘overcrowding’

The hospital said its morgue facilities were full and had to call in extra refrigeration trailers

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 29 December 2021 22:39 GMT
COVID-19 cases, demand for testing spike
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A maxed-out Los Angeles-area hospital left bags with decomposing bodies out in the rain, according to a whistleblower, as the city struggles with a surge in the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The witness, speaking to KCAL 9 anonymously on Monday, said she saw a pile of bodies out in the rain leaking fluids onto hospital personnel at the Memorial Hospital of Garden who were moving the corpses to a mobile refrigeration unit.

“Security had tears in their eyes, they were crying. Some of the security had to leave because they had fluid on their clothes,” she said in an interview, adding, “You have to be a voice for somebody who doesn’t have a voice.”

The hospital acknowledged that it is facing overcrowding, but said bodies were being properly cared for and offered a number of explanations for what was seen.

“Because of the overcrowding situation, hospital administrators took action yesterday to organize the outdoor cooling unit in a more orderly fashion,” the hospital said in a statement. “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.”

Memorial Hospital noted its regular morgue can only hold six bodies, and said the backlog was in part because more than 10 sets of the remains in its care hadn’t been claimed by family or picked up by the county.

It also said all of the bodies had been stored at the proper temperature, which the whistleblower said she didn’t believe.

“Impossible. Those bodies were defrosting. They were decomposing. You had the blood,” she added.

The images are an eerie reminder of last holiday season, when the final three days of 2020 set records each day for Covid deaths, with the highest at a staggering 291 people in one day.

Hospitals and morgues were full, and the National Guard was called in to assist the overburdened health system, where some facilities reported lines of 10 ambulances in a row to access care.

Though the average number of Covid deaths in Los Angeles is way down, at a seven-day average of 22 deaths per day, cases have been climbing since the end of November. More than 1,000 people are currently in LA County hospitals with Covid for the first time since September, as Omicron continues to drive new cases.

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