Meru hospital in search for families to ease mortuary congestion

Meru morgue

Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary on January 23, 2023. The morgue with a capacity of 60 bodies is congested with over 300 bodies.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital is seeking out families of people whose bodies have been lying at its mortuary for about three months leading to congestion.

All county hospital mortuaries in Meru are full beyond capacity following a delay by the courts to grant disposal orders since November last year.

The hospitals mortuary, with a capacity of 60 bodies, currently has more than 320 bodies.

The hospital is now relying on Miathene Level Four hospital, whose capacity is 15 bodies, to ease further congestion.

Speaking to the Nation, Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital acting CEO Gacheri Kathiiri said social workers had been deployed across the county to look for bereaved families.

She said once the families are identified, they are advised to pick the bodies or give consent for disposal.

“Our social workers have been in the field since Wednesday trying to trace the families of the departed ones. They have been able to identify some and we hope the situation will ease in the next one week,” Dr Gacheri said.

The hospital CEO noted that most of the families reached by social workers were not aware that their kin had died.

“The police are also supporting the exercise by taking fingerprints to identify the deceased,” she said.

Dr Gacheri said due to the crisis, the hospital was working on a mechanism that will have relatives of the deceased identified when bodies are delivered to the mortuary.

“We are now exploring how we can have the details of bodies either at the casualty or mortuary so that we do not end up with many unclaimed bodies. The courts are also keen on establishing whether the hospital put effort in identifying the relatives before disposal,” the acting CEO said.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza said the county would soon operationalize two more morgues at Kanyakine and Timau to ease congestion at the referral hospital.