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Wayne County questions Beaumont Wayne's makeshift morgue

Posted at 12:11 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 17:32:19-04

WAYNE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Wayne County health inspectors are looking into whether or not Wayne Beaumont violated county health ordinances with its makeshift morgue, located in a warehouse near the hospital.

Beaumont Wayne is temporarily closed, after converting to a COVID-only facility in late March. Hospital leadership has been open about the need to store bodies at the makeshift morgue, due to overflow from the pandemic.

The 7 Investigators reported on the makeshift morgue earlier this week, speaking with Beaumont COO Carolyn Wilson.

According to Wayne County spokesperson Bill Nowling, health inspectors went to see if there was a public health risk at the warehouse, and were initially turned away.

He released the following statement to 7 Action News:

"On Monday, the Wayne County Health Division received a report that Beaumont Wayne was storing dead bodies in a vacant building on its campus. On Tuesday, after being initially turned away by hospital administrators Tuesday afternoon, county health inspectors we allowed access to the building and discovered a make-shift morgue in operation containing approximately 50 bodies. The Wayne County Health Division has launched an investigation to determine whether county health ordinances were violated by the hospital system."

For Beaumont's part, Wilson told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo the makeshift morgue was necessary.

It’s really an overflow, temporary morgue as an extension if you will of our 8 hospital morgues," Wilson said.

According to Beaumont spokesperson Mark Geary, Beaumont received approval from the City of Wayne to use the warehouse as a temporary morgue.

Geary released the following statement to Action News:

“In early April, as the COVID-19 crisis peaked, Beaumont obtained approvals from the City of Wayne’s Department of Community Development and Planning, Building Department and Fire Marshall to convert part of a warehouse into a temporary morgue. Once we obtained approval, we worked quickly to ensure that part of the warehouse space could serve this temporary purpose in a safe, appropriate and respectful way. Beaumont continues to use the rest of the warehouse to store much needed supplies we distribute to our hospitals across metro Detroit.

On Tuesday, without advanced notice, without being able to explain their purpose, and without appropriately fitting PPE to protect themselves from the coronavirus, various individuals demanded entry into the warehouse. These individuals were later shown photographs of the temporary morgue setup. The purpose of their visit remains unclear.”

Nowling, who said Wayne County is still investigating the matter, told Action News he has yet to see any proof of that approval.

Meanwhile, Wilson said it's her hope to re-open Wayne Beaumont as a regular hospital in the coming weeks.

7 Action News reached out to the City of Wayne on this matter and are waiting on a response.

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