Broken body cooler leaves low space at Hamilton Co. morgue
The main body cooler at the Hamilton County morgue is out of commission (Photo: FOX19)
HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) -
The main body cooler at the Hamilton County morgue is out of commission, and there could be a shortage of space if it isn't fixed soon.
On Monday there was about 20 bodies at the coroner's office and Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco says they have room for only about 12 or 13 more.
She also says this latest issue with the cooler is part of a much bigger problem.
The coroner's office sees an average of three new bodies every day, and Dr. Sammarco says this breakdown hasn't affected their service, but they are relying on a backup cooler.
"We really need to get out of this antiquated building that's falling apart around our ears," said Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco
Dr. Sammarco says it could cost as much as $20,000 or more to fix the main cooler, and she says right now, there's no timetable for when it'll work again.
"It's essentially a refrigerator, do you have a refrigerator that's 43 years old that's working? No matter how much maintenance you do these things do break down and they are old," said Dr. Sammarco.
Earlier this year, the commissioners voted to accept Mercy Health's donation of its Mount Airy campus, a new location for the crime lab and coroner's office.
But nearly nine months later, this move isn't a sure thing, something that's concerning to Dr. Sammarco.
"This year we've had so many things that we've needed to fix that we weren't planning on and that's taken a lot of money out of our budget to do so," said Dr. Sammarco.
Commissioner Chris Monzel says they've been doing their due diligence from a legal perspective, while planning for next year's budget.
"We have to be fiscally responsible with the money we have that taking on that building we'd be able to afford it given if we move different departments out there, the first one of which would be the coroner's office," said Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel.
Commissioner Todd Portune thinks a regional location that includes other counties should also be considered, but like Monzel he agrees, it has to make fiscal and operational sense.
"If it's not going to be Mount Airy, then another place but this isn't going to work for much longer," said Dr. Sammarco.
Dr. Sammarco says they have reached out to the National Center for Medial Readiness. If need be they could get mobile morgues. Dr. Sammarco says they only issue with that is she's unsure the building would be able to handle the extra electricity they require.