Bodies stored in refrigerated trailer after morgue in London, Ont., reaches capacity

As the pandemic’s deadly second wave continues, southwestern Ontario’s largest morgue has reached capacity in recent days, forcing the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) to bring in a refrigerated trailer to store bodies.

This weekend, the forensic pathology unit for the London network of hospitals reached its 28-bed capacity and officials brought in a mobile unit to store bodies until the backlog can be dealt with. 

“New processes due to the pandemic have resulted in increases in the time needed for securing appropriate arrangements, and have necessitated additional interim body holding solutions,” Glen Kearns, the hospital’s chief information officer and integrated vice president of diagnostic services, said in a statement.

“The use of an alternative body holding solution by LHSC is a temporary measure that has been implemented specifically to allow for continued support of the needs of our patients and their families, the regional coroner’s office and Ontario’s death investigation system,”  

This is the second time the hospital has used a mobile unit because the morgue is over capacity since the start of the pandemic. Officials say the “capacity challenge” will be resolved within days. 

Since the start of the pandemic there have been 108 deaths in the Middlesex-London Health Unit catchment area attributed to COVID-19. 

The LHSC’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (PaLM) program is the regional forensic pathology unit for southwestern Ontario run by both St. Joseph’s Health Care and London Health Sciences Centre. Autopsies are performed there, and bodies are held there while coroners and families work to make arrangements. 

“London Health Sciences Centre is committed to the safe and respectful care and sheltering of bodies after death,” Kearns said. 

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