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Counties work to ensure morgue space is available if needed

The counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson opened a “Dignified Transfer Center” on Tuesday, April 21. The 29,000-square-foot facility, located at 4334 Rider Trail North, Building D, in Earth City, will serve as relief to hospitals, morgues and funeral homes. It is capable of holding 1,300 decedents, according to a press statement issued by St. Louis County.

“The hope is to never utilize this building, but we have a responsibility to prepare,” the statement said.

According to the St. Louis County, there is an average of 28 lives lost each day in St. Louis County outside of COVID-19. The overwhelming majority of those deaths are attributable to natural causes or medical events. Others are lost to violence, suicide or overdose.

The capacity that facilities like hospitals, morgues, and funeral homes have is finite. This limited space has the potential to be exhausted when funerals are not being held in a timely fashion, which could be attributable to a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Funeral homes not being able to conduct the business in the manner they usually do.
  • Families potentially being sick or quarantined themselves.
  • Additional precautions that must be taken for the funeral professionals and the families.
  • Loved ones delaying the process of saying goodbye until the pandemic and its effects [travel and gathering limitations] end.

The facility was created through memorandums of understanding between the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson. Construction was completed using contracted vendors from those four counties and the state. Money allocated for the project has the possibility of being reimbursed through federal emergency funding, but this currently remains unknown. The projected construction cost is approximately $2 million. 

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