Memorial Hospital accused of mishandling dead bodies

By Brett Callwood

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Photo by Gary Kohatsu STORAGE ISSUES?—Memorial Hospital of Gardena is facing claims of inappropriately storing the bodies of deceased patients. Hospital officials say the transfer of bodies was delayed due in part to local mortuaries delaying pickup of the deceased.

Memorial Hospital of Gardena has been in the international, national and local news in recent weeks as it faces accusations that it mismanaged the handling of dead bodies of patients as the hospital struggled to keep up with the numbers, and allegedly storing them improperly. UK newspaper the Daily Mail wrote that, “Soaking wet body bags are seen piled up outside the Los Angeles-based Memorial Hospital of Gardena, owned by Pipeline Health System, in footage captured by CBSLA. Employees are also seen in the footage rearranging the body bags of 19 deceased COVID-19 patients and carrying them into a mobile freezer in the hospital’s parking lot.” However, a spokesperson for the hospital said that, “the mobile freezer outside the hospital is kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the necessary temperature to store the bodies, and denied that the bodies were left out in the rain.” “Because of the overcrowding situation, hospital administrators took action yesterday to organize the outdoor cooling unit in a more orderly fashion,” Memorial Hospital of Gardena wrote in a statement to CBSLA. “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.” However, an anonymous witness told CBSLA, “Impossible. Those bodies were defrosted. They were decomposing.” Memorial Hospital released a statement to CBSLA last week that read, “Memorial Hospital of Gardena continues working to alleviate a situation of overcrowding in its morgue facilities. As of this morning, the hospital had 19 bodies on site, in the hospital’s small inside morgue and in a temporary cooling unit outside,” the hospital said. “Local mortuaries are filling up at this time, which makes a transfer more challenging. Meanwhile, hospital administrators are working to get a larger temporary cooling unit on site to alleviate the overcrowding.” Pipeline Health also told Fox- LA, “The bodies that were briefly removed from the outside cooling unit Tuesday evening were rebagged and promptly returned to the unit that evening.” The GVN reached out to Memorial Hospital and Pipeline Health for a direct statement, but have yet to hear back.

Memorial Hospital accused of mishandling dead bodies