The recent spate of deaths due to COVID-19 in Bermuda has overwhelmed the hospital’s morgue, with Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) officials opting to use refrigerated containers.

BHB Deputy Chief Executive Officer, R Scott Pearman, said: “The increase in deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic is a tragic situation for many families, first and foremost, and we feel deeply for the grief and pain so many are feeling in our community right now.

The high numbers are also putting pressure on the individuals and organisations who would normally support the process from death to burial or cremation, and this includes BHB.

Our concern is having enough space for all the deceased given the high numbers of deaths we are experiencing. We have already exceeded our regular morgue capacity and are using refrigerated overflow containers,” he added.

Ultimately, he said the hospital’s “respectful goal” was to preserve the dignity and safety of the deceased.

But he warned that some were being left with the hospital “longer than necessary”, causing even more pressure on space.

“For us to meet this goal, however, we need help as some individuals are left with KEMH longer than necessary and this is increasing the number of people we need to have space for.

Reducing the number of deceased individuals held by BHB will be greatly helped by families working with their chosen funeral director so their loved ones can be picked up from KEMH and be buried or cremated with as little delay as possible,” said Mr Pearman.

Families are going through so much when someone dies and they may not always know what has to take place for their loved one to be released from KEMH.”

Moving forward, he said the Government, funeral directors and BHB has drawn up an information sheet  “about the process to help families as they work through all the steps that have to take place, and help them prepare for the financial implications and decisions that need to be made.”