Hospitals Body Removals

One of our jobs as removal staff personnel at the funeral home, was to pick up the deceased at area hospitals.  The hospitals would call after getting the families of the deceased had made arrangements with our funeral home.  There were a variety of reasons people died in hospitals.  Unsuccessful surgery, heart attacks, or some prolonged illness that had finally taken it’s toll.

Bodies in hospitals were always discretely moved to the hospital morgue, which was generally located in a non-descript, out-of-the-way location in the hospital.  All of the hospitals in our city had morgues with security codes for entry of some type.  So if someone could figure out where the door to the morgue was located, they would not be able to just walk right in due to the security precautions.  The morgues seldom had anyone working in them, and I always remember being alone anytime I picked up a body with the exception of a few hospitals that required a uniformed security guard to be present.

The morgues often had walk-in coolers that held the deceased, or the big heavy rolling drawers where the bodies would lie.  sometimes the bodies were in body bags, sometimes they were not.  We were always required to drive our van up into some back alleyway of the hospital and were encourages to wheel the deceased through areas that did not have many people around.  I guess it was bad for business if people saw dead bodies being wheeled out the hospital.  But death is a reality at hospitals and often occurs daily.

The procedures for removing a body form the hospital was like most of the other procedures, though there might be some extra paperwork involved.  Hospitals always had their own way of tagging a corpse, but we would always re-tag them with our standard ankle tag, which had the deceased’s name and ID number that corresponded with all of their funeral home paperwork.

Often times, the security guards would try to make small talk to lighten the mood.  Often they seemed uncomfortable with having been assigned morgue duty.  I always put them at ease by acting professional and by doing my job as quickly as possible.  Some guards would try to not look at the corpse, and some would be very interested in getting a good look.

There were some hospitals with very nice morgues, but I remeber most of them being less than nice and being dimly lit and not as clean as the rest of the hospital.  I guess since only the dead would ever be in these rooms it was less of a priority for them to spend money to make them nice.

We would often know that a hospital pick up would be in our future becuase we would hear from the family shortly after the person died.  But it was not until we received the official call from the hospital after the body had been released that we could actually go pick them up.  Sometimes it might be a day or two after the person had died.  I’m not always sure why sometimes it took so much longer, but in some cases it had to do with whether or not an autopsy had been required.

One time I actually went to pick up a body at a very busy hospital and was told the body was in the E.R.  A man had come in with chest pains and had ended up having a heart attack right there in the E.R.  He died and the hospital was so busy they insisted that I simply remove him from the E.R. instead of them taking him to their morgue.  This made it very awkward for me since I had to park right in front of the E.R. doors and remove his body in a much less private setting.  Everyone there saw me come in, and then saw me wheel him right out the doors into the parking lot.  It was not discreet and did not seem very professional, but it was what that hospital had asked me to do…so I guess I had no choice.  It was the only time that ever happened.  All of the other times, I simply picked them up from the morgues.

~ by thatoneguy on August 8, 2010.

14 Responses to “Hospitals Body Removals”

  1. Please keep posting. We are out here reading!

  2. I saw this happen at a hospital in Aransas Pass, Tx. It was a small hospital and the funeral home is a few blocks away. This was high drama however as the whole ER had come to a screeching halt as a very premature baby could not wait and a very old lady came in with a heart attack .The hospital wasnt set up for babies and this was an extreme emergency. Everyone waiting in the ER was literally on the edge of their seats waiting for the outcome.Finally after many hours the Funeral director arrived and went in .. we didnt know who was going to be going out with him .. to be honest many people were just massively praying .. the atmosphere was surreal. Finally the Funeral director emerged with the elderly lady and the childrens hospital in Corpus Christi arrived for the teeny baby girl .. We were sad for the elderly lady yet seeing the baby the whole ER cheered .. Ill never forget it . Being present while someone arrived on this earth at the same time someone left .

  3. I remember working as an orderly in a hospital in Australia and the trip from the ward to the mortuary was also discreet. They have a trolley that looks like a bed fitted with rails and has a pillow on top. they trolley would have a tray that is lifted up and down and completely conceals the body.

    The worst mortuary run I had to do was to take a 150Kg lady down from the ICU and not having a suitable fridge because there aren’t that many obese patients, so I had to use electrical tape on the body bag to hold her arms in but some times the tape would not hold and Ive heard stories where nurses would have to stand on the tray to hold the arms to make them fit in the fridge…. cheers

  4. […] where the dead can be tucked away from public view.  Then, when they’re removed from the hospital morgue to funeral homes, they’re generally transferred through low traffic areas and back […]

  5. i work for a removal service and have also had to do this. i also had to go to the second floor icu to do a removal. its very odd when your wheeling a body where everyone can see. doing a removal in private residence can be a challenge with nosey neighbors and a lack of being able to keep the process discreet.

  6. I work for a funeral home as well and have done many removals. One time the hospital was understaffed and we were asked to go into the ICU to remove a body. The ICU had two beds, and we were escorted into the room, but not told which bed the deceased was in. Of course we started setting up the cot at the wrong bed. Highly embarrassing for us and the hospital staff when the man woke up and scared the crap out of me.

  7. how do i get a job doing this kind of stuff

  8. I had a guy wake up on my in the back of the first call van once.

  9. Brings back old memories from my days with the Telecom Company……Every time I had a service or install call at a hospital I would come in and say Where is the Telecom Closet? …… And get a blank stare from the staff. Then I would say Where is the Morgue? Oh that’s in the basement either here or there. The Morgue along with the Telco are usually together with where services enter the building and most older hospitals since Telco grew later was put in a closet…… In the Morgue. Seen my share of body’s and procedures but everyone I ever saw work with the deceased were nothing but respectful. Never minded either never once had a cadaver say ……. Your Late, My Bill is to high, Got Static on my line….. Just silence and I would often ponder who loved them, what they had seen and where they had been. Not sure why but never saw anyone that would be considered young. Worse I had ever seen was a 30 year old woman that looked 80 so I asked the technician what’s up there and he said drugs and alcohol took its toll

  10. I’m looking for that type of job.

  11. You’re so interesting! I do not believe I’ve read through something like this before. So good to find another person with some unique thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  12. My mom always said that if someone ‘Dies’, rest assured, someone else was gonna bring ‘Life’ on earth.

  13. I am glad I’ve found this. I worked as a funeral attendant/assistant right after highschool. We did most of the removals (had a removal company list if we were busy), and we did everything from tracking down doctors to get signatures to transferring paperwork from one home to another… (It was a rather large branch with a number of company owned cemeteries as well.

    Now a few years into a new career I find myself writing a screenplay loosely based on the work. In my mind I was mixing things from M.E. Removals and hospitals. Reading this helped me remember a lot of stuff.
    Something you did leave out was every hospital is very diffrent with what they require and expect. One hospital in particular I had to park then walk and find a specific details office, fill out some forms there, go back to the van back into the loading bay then wait for security then finally I can fill out the usual log they had and retrieve the body… All these doors were coded and I’d have to wait till someone with a RF key to walk by.

    Anyway hospitals were my favorite removals, so much alone time for me and usually was relaxing, (as compared to a home removal or even a funeral.)

    Thank you again!

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