LA hospital sparks outrage after DUMPING bodies of 19 dead COVID patients outside in the rain for HOURS before security finally moved them into refrigerated morgue
Soaking wet body bags are seen piled up outside the Los Angeles-based Memorial Hospital of Gardena, owned by Pipeline Health System, in footage captured by CBSLA. Employees are also seen in the footage rearranging the body bags of 19 deceased COVID-19 patients and carrying them into a mobile freezer in the hospital’s parking lot.
A morgue inside the hospital could only hold six bodies, which has posed difficulties throughout the pandemic, a hospital spokesperson told CBSLA.
The spokesperson added that the mobile freezer outside the hospital is kept at 34 degrees Fahrenheit, the necessary temperature to store the bodies, and denied that the bodies were left out in the rain.
Memorial Hospital of Gardena, in Los Angeles, is facing criticism for leaving nearly 20 bodies of dead COVID-19 patients outside in the rain
Employees are seen above rearranging the bodies in a mobile refrigerator in footage taken by CBSLA
The hospital has a morgue that could only hold six bodies and said it was following protocols by moving the remainder to a mobile unit
‘Because of the overcrowding situation, hospital administrators took action yesterday to organize the outdoor cooling unit in a more orderly fashion,’ Memorial Hospital of Gardena wrote in a statement to CBSLA.
‘Hospital protocol calls upon security guards to assist in the process when mortuaries come to pick up bodies, primarily helping to lift and move the bodies,’ the statement continued.
However, a witness recalled watching teary-eyed employees carrying the bodies into the freezer in a recent downpour.
‘Security had tears in their eyes. They’re crying. Some of the security had to leave because they got fluid on their clothes when they did move the bodies,’ the anonymous witness told the news outlet.
The witness referred to what appeared to be body fluids on the bags and said there was no way the bodies were being stored at an adequate temperature. ‘Impossible. Those bodies were defrosted. They were decomposing,’ she said.
It is not clear how long the bodies were left outside before the were transferred, but the hospital confirmed that it has kept bodies in its mobile freezer for months at a time.
The hospital also claimed that 11 of the 19 people whose bodies were seen being transferred were not claimed by family members and Los Angels County has yet to pick them up.
Employees above are seen cleaning up the mess after moving the soaking wet bodies into a refrigerator
A witness said she saw employees crying as body fluid leaked onto them as they rearranged the bodies in a recent downpour
Memorial Hospital of Gardena said that it has been overcrowded in the pandemic, as California’s just broke 5 million cumulative COVID-19 cases
Vidal Herrera, the owner of the independent autopsy company, agreed with the anonymous witness and said that it’s illegal to store bodies that way the hospital was seen doing it in the photos.
Herrera, who owns 1-800-Autopsy, told Fox 11 that he also received calls from a mortuary picking up the bodies, adding that they saw ‘piled up, bloody body bags and didn’t know what to do.’
Herrera also spoke to CBSLA and said, looking at the photos, ‘I could see a lot of bodily fluids, and right there the pathogens- that can expose security guards and whomever walks in there. A body should never be there for more than two weeks.’
The pandemic has posed challenges to hospitals everywhere and Herrera said that the situation at Memorial Hospital of Gardena is not unique. ‘This is happening in small facilities, all over. It’s going to get worse with COVID surges. It’s far from over,’ he told Fox 11.
A Memorial Hospital of Gardena spokesperson wrote in a statement that administrators are working to get a larger temporary cooling unit on site to ‘alleviate the overcrowding.’
The scenes outside the California hospital are reminiscent of the early days of the coronavirus when disturbing images surfaced of bodies lining the streets outside of New York City hospitals before they were loaded onto refrigerated trucks that acted as makeshift morgues.
Employees at the Brookdale Hospital Center in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn were seen using forklifts to move the dead onto refrigerated trucks. Staff kept body bags containing deceased COVID-19 patients on stretchers as the moved them out of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick.
Meanwhile, California, like the rest of the country, is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by both the highly contagious Delta and Omicron variants. Two weeks ago, the state re-introduced its state-wide mask mandate as cases spike by 47%. Since then, cases have skyrocketed.
The positivity rate has quadrupled since then, going from 2.3% on December 15 to 9.7% as of Tuesday night, according to the California Department of Public Health.
And the state became the first to record more than 5 million known coronavirus infections, according to the state dashboard Tuesday, which was delayed by the holiday weekend.
California’s seven-day average for newly confirmed COVID-19 cases increased to 19,950 on Wednesday – a more than 200% increase from the 9,506 reported the week before.
Cases have jumped by about 320% percent from the 6,203 average recorded two weeks ago and have skyrocketed by roughly 460% from the 4,310 average cases recorded at the end of last month.
California just saw a nearly 300% increase in cases between Monday and Tuesday, going from 16,668 cases to 49,384.
The scenes outside the California hospital are reminiscent of the early days of the coronavirus when disturbing images surfaced of bodies lining the streets outside of New York City hospitals. Above, employees at the Brookdale Hospital Center in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn were seen using forklifts to move the dead onto refrigerated trucks
Staff were moving body bags containing deceased COVID-19 patients on stretchers out of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick