GNYHA continues to collaborate with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM), and member hospitals on fatality management issues. Body collection points (BCPs) have been made available to all New York City hospitals to increase morgue capacity and allow families and funeral homes additional time to make arrangements for decedents. Also, over the past several weeks, Strike Teams have removed decedents at an expedited pace.

Due to the need to wind down these operations, OCME and NYCEM are requesting that hospitals empty and return their BCPs. A detailed phaseout plan is outlined below.

Strike Teams to Be Disbanded Tomorrow

The Strike Teams will be disbanded tomorrow (May 21), after which OCME will revert to normal day-to-day operations for decedent pickup. The purpose of the Strike Teams was to expedite the BCP and decedent retrieval process using an interagency taskforce. This aggressive approach allowed for the retrieval of many decedents in a short period of time. If your facility does not currently have a Strike Team visit scheduled between today and tomorrow, but is prepared to receive one and would like to decant your BCP or fixed morgue, please reach out to Faiza Haq or your OCME BCP Coordinator. OCME may be able to accommodate additional retrievals.

OCME to Revert to Normal Operations

Beginning Friday, hospitals will need to follow normal practices (pre-COVID-19) when requesting decedent pickup. OCME staff can retrieve decedents from the hospital’s fixed morgue or BCP. However, please note that hospital staff will need to assist with all parts of the decedent retrieval process (i.e., remove decedents from BCP, place decedents in disaster pouches). See below for additional details about processes that should be followed beginning Friday.

  • Paperwork
    • Fax the face sheet and clinical summary worksheet to 332-900-8581
    • Do not fax the death certificate and burial permit (see exception below) as they will be retrieved directly from eVital; however, please ensure death certificates are registered and completed in eVital with an interim disposition to OCME
    • Cases where the next-of-kin (NOK) or person authorized to direct disposition have requested the final disposition to be interment at City Cemetery at Hart Island should provide the following:
      • Burial permit indicating the method of disposition as “Interment/City Burial” and place of disposition as “City Cemetery at Hart Island”
      • Letter signed by the NOK or person authorized to direct this disposition
        It is not necessary to fax a manifest as this was not a requirement pre-COVID-19
  • Disaster Bags
    • Continue to store decedents to be transferred to OCME’s custody in disaster bags; all other decedents can be stored in regular body bags
  • Request Pickup
    • Unclaimed remains: hold decedents for at least seven days prior to requesting pickup from OCME (as per normal practice pre-COVID-19)
    • Claimed remains: request OCME pickup if decedent remains in hospital’s custody beyond two weeks; if funeral directors are aware of a delay, they can request long-term storage disposition in the death certificate

Retrieval of all BCPs

OCME and NYCEM have started to retrieve empty BCPs from hospitals as they return to exclusively using their fixed morgues. All BCPs will need to be returned to NYCEM by mid-June, but hospitals may be asked to have their BCP picked up sooner based on their census counts. To request retrieval of an empty BCP, please contact Faiza Haq. NYCEM will maintain a large supply of BCPs through the calendar year; they will be available upon request for facilities experiencing a sudden surge.

In the event of another surge in fatalities, OCME and NYCEM are prepared to ramp up operations for the expedited retrieval of decedents and transfer to long-term storage.

Trailer Vendors Available

We understand that some hospitals may continue to need additional capacity beyond their fixed morgue for some time. If your hospital is interested in sourcing a refrigerated unit, please see the list of vendors below, which may be able to assist. Please note that availability across these vendors may be limited, and be mindful of type, size, and maintenance requirements.

For further information about the phased demobilization plan, please refer to the attached OCME document.