Hospital draws fire over shared-space arrangement at mortuary

January 31, 2019 17:46
A photo circulated online depicts a notice posted by a hospital informing the public that tight infrastructure may lead to mortuary compartments housing two cadavers at a time. Photo: Facebook/Alan Law

A public hospital in Tai Po has drawn the ire of Hongkongers after it made some unusual, temporary arrangements with regard to storage of human corpses in its mortuary.

Online forums are abuzz with chatter about a notice put up by Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital informing the public that shortage of mortuary facilities is forcing the institution to temporarily put in place an arrangement whereby two dead persons will share each compartment in the morgue. 

In the notice, which was photographed and posted on a Facebook group for residents in North District on Wednesday morning, the public hospital said its mortuary utilization is currently very high.

As such, the hospital will temporarily store two bodies of the same sex in one compartment or transfer the bodies to the mortuaries of other hospitals as a temporary relief measure, the notice said.

In its advisory, the hospital called on related people to collect the cadavers in its mortuary as soon as possible to avoid overcrowding.

The notice sparked heated discussions among netizens, with many criticizing the hospital for giving the go-by to the normal practice of storing cadavers in individual compartments.

Will people not get relief even after they are dead, one person wondered. 

Hongkongers now have to get in line, being crowded with others, from cradle to grave, another individual remarked, accusing the hospital of not showing respect for the dead. 

In response to media enquiries on the matter, the Hospital Authority (HA) said the notice was posted on a regular basis and that it was issued mainly with the hope that the family of a dead person can collect the body sooner rather than later to avoid having the mortuary utilization reach the saturation point.

According to the HA, the average usage of mortuaries at public hospitals is currently about 70 percent at present.

The authority noted that the existing contingency mechanism allows a public hospital to put two bodies of the same sex in the same mortuary compartment or transfer them to other hospital mortuaries with available compartments, if the number of bodies is more than the available cells.

– Contact us at [email protected]