The Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) are working together to provide body collection points (BCPs), or refrigerated trailers, to health care facilities that are nearing, or have reached, morgue capacity. GNYHA members in the five boroughs can submit requests here. See below for additional resources related to mass fatality management.

Please note that OCME’s main number is back in service. Facilities that need to contact OCME should call the main number at 212-447-2030.

OCME Body Collection Point Guide

OCME has updated its guide on the Body Collection Point (BCP) retrieval process. OCME will now pick up both unclaimed cases (with no known next of kin) and claimed cases (with family/funeral home involvement). Most importantly, OCME understands hospitals have been holding claimed decedents for an extended time period due to delays with funeral directors picking up these decedents. Therefore, OCME will provide long-term storage for these cases to allow families and funeral homes time to make private arrangements. These decedents will not be sent to City burial. A pick-up checklist has also been made available.

Current BCP Operations Update

  • Guidance from OCME recommends that hospitals house at least two BCPs on their campuses, one to hold unclaimed cases, and one to hold claimed cases that are awaiting pickup from funeral homes.
  • OCME is requiring all hospitals to add shelving to their BCPs to increase capacity to approximately 100 decedents. All newly deployed BCPs should feature built-in shelving to ease the burden on hospitals; however, please continue to add shelving to previously deployed BCPs already at your facility.
    • OCME has provided guidance on proper storing and shelving and will share additional information when available.
    • OCME has provided contact information for their vendor who may be able to assist with shelving, along with a sketch which specifies shelving specifications.
      • Vendor Information:
        Thomas Tilleli, PE
        TDX Construction Corp.
        330 7th Ave, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10001
        Phone: (212) 279-1981 | Fax: (212) 279-1983
  • Hospitals will be requested to maintain these refrigerated trailers until OCME can take possession.
  • Hospitals should continue to release cases to funeral homes on demand until OCME picks up the BCP.
  • The fatality management flow chart guides hospitals through the decision points involved in managing fatalities.

BCP Management

The Body Collection Point management is the responsibility of the receiving healthcare facility. As an extension of the facility’s morgue space, the hospital will be responsible for the following:

  • Only Claim Cases can be stored in the BCP: All cases under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner (ME Cases) must be reported to the OCME and cannot be placed in the BCP, as outlined in this memo.
  • Decedent Manifest: OCME has updated the Decedent Manifest Form, which all hospitals are strongly encouraged to use as their manifest tracker for BCPs. It is editable so you could enter the data electronically or print it out on legal-sized paper and have a hard copy that you maintain.
  • Family Management: Communicating with families to make notification of death and enable arrangement for final disposition.
  • Release Cases: Hospitals must facilitate the release of cases to funeral homes on demand and in accordance with normal procedures.
  • Trailer Maintenance and Customization: Hospitals must ensure cases can be safely and respectfully loaded and released from the BCP. If the BCP is not located at a loading dock, this will require the construction of a ramp or platform to support safe transfer of cases. Hospitals should outfit refrigerated trailers with shelving to increase the storage capacity of the unit.
  • Temperature Monitoring: Remains should be stored between 37-44F. The receiving facility must monitor the temperature to ensure the storage unit is maintained within this temperature range. Remote temperature monitoring equipment is available from various vendors if the hospital chooses to purchase this resource.
  • Fuel Management: Hospitals are responsible for monitoring fuel levels and refueling units. NYCEM has secured a vendor to support fueling, but hospitals should be prepared to provide fuel as needed.
  • Case Management/Tracking: Hospitals must maintain a morgue census for all cases stored in the Body Collection Point.
  • Security: The receiving facility must ensure that the unit is secure 24 hours a day. Depending on the placement of the unit, this may include taking measures to ensure privacy, deploying lighting elements or cameras, deploying tents or covered walkways, etc. Access to the BCP is to be strictly limited, no unauthorized personnel should have access to the BCP and no photographs should be taken of the interior of the BCP.
  • Personal Effects: The hospital is responsible for the management of personal effects. As is current protocol, OCME will not take possession of personal effects when picking up the BCP.
  • Human Remains Pouches (HRPs): Hospitals are responsible to ensure they have appropriate supplies for the packaging of decedents for storage. If unable to source any supplies internally, a resource request must be submitted to NYCEM Logistics. See below for multiple vendors that can supply HRPs:
    • Affordable Funeral Supply, contact: Heather 724-831-6463
    • Action Health, contact: Sean 630-496-6216
    • Henry Schwab, contact: Lori 800-447-1049
    • B.P. Polo Funeral Supply, contact: Rich Money, 800-992-8987 x 5220
    • Vision Medical, contact: George 678-893-0070
  • Long-Term Storage: OCME is providing long-term storage for all decedents where a funeral home and/or family need additional time to make arrangements. No decedents will be sent to City Cemetery at Heart Island unless the family/next-of-kin chooses that option or if a decedent remains unclaimed. There is no time limit for how long OCME will hold decedents to ensure that families can fulfill their final disposition wishes.
  • Death Certificates: Hospitals must ensure death certificates for all decedents are filed and registered appropriately in the eVital system. A method and place of disposition must be entered for the death certificate to be registered. Failure to comply with this requirement will delay the transfer of decedents to OCME’s custody.
    • See here for guidance from the Bureau of Vital Statistics on how to run reports in eVital that can help identify incomplete death certificates.
    • This guide provides instructions on how to properly complete death certificates and ensure there are no unregistered cases at your facility.
    • Hospitals with questions may also e-mail evital@health.nyc.gov.

Case Documentation

Similar to day-to-day operations, hospitals must prepare complete and competent paperwork for every case.

  • Please do not report each individual claim case at this time, we will request all paperwork upon approval to pick up the BCP.
  • Hospitals must maintain a manifest for each BCP – tracking the cases located in the BCP
    • OCME personnel, or their designee, will use this manifest to transfer custody of the cases to OCME upon recovery
  • Hospitals must compile the documentation required for a daily claim only or city burial case – including clinical summary worksheet, death certificate and burial permit.

BCP Pickup

OCME has resources in place to begin pickup of full BCPs. Hospitals that have reached capacity within their BCP (40-45 for those without shelving, 80-100 for those with shelving) AND have submitted the appropriate paperwork for each claim are eligible for pickup. Please read the BCP Retrieval Guide carefully to understand the process and reach out to Faiza Haq if you are ready for a pickup.

Strike Teams for Expedited BCP and Decedent Retrieval

OCME has put in place new resources to complete expedited body BCP and decedent retrievals from hospitals. Strike teams that consist of staff from OCME, the New York Police Department, New York City Emergency Management, and the US Military will help hospitals to complete paperwork and ready BCPs for removal. Hospitals will only be required to complete a face sheet and death certificate. See here for a handout outlining the strike team’s expedited process.

Request for Additional BCPs

OCME is currently working to get the necessary resources to be able to pick up filled BCPs. In the meantime, hospitals are asked to identify spaces for additional BCPs to accommodate the fatality surge. Facilities may need to contact the New York City Police Department and/or the New York City Department of Transportation to assist with road closures to support BCP units. When a facility is nearing capacity on their initial BCP, they should place a resource request for a second BCP.

Hospitals are requested to maintain BCPs at their sites until OCME can take possession, and are encouraged to keep proper documentation using this sample manifest form and this chain of custody tracking form.

Daily Morgue Census

OCME is requesting that all hospitals provide their daily morgue census to help monitor storage and proper resource allocation. Morgue supervisors should complete this survey for both their fixed facility morgue and their BCP if one has been deployed. Hospitals must indicate the following:

  • # of cases currently stored in the in-house morgue
  • # of cases currently stored in the BCP(s)

Guidelines for Reporting COVID-19-Related Deaths to DOHMH

The DOHMH Bureau of Vital Statistics issued a letter on April 17, with updated guidance regarding the process of recording and certifying the disposition portion on New York City death certificates through eVital.

Additionally, OCME released a memo on April 1 stating deaths due to possible therapeutic complications are no longer reportable to OCME.

Long Term Care Facilities

As long term care facilities begin to see an increase in fatalities, OCME has provided detailed guidance on the process for reporting cases, including use of the Clinical Summary Worksheet. Please carefully review these items and complete all required paperwork as outlined. All information should be faxed to OCME at 646-500-5762. Body collection points (BCPs), or refrigerated trailers, will only be provided to facilities that have the capacity to manage them. Facilities are encouraged to first follow the process outlined in the checklist or contact their associated health care system / hospital (if applicable) for assistance.

Increase Mortuary Staff

With the increase in fatalities and BCPs at each hospital, OCME is advising all hospitals to immediately increase their mortuary staff by three times. These staff are essential in maintaining efficiencies in the morgues and BCPs by ensuring accurate documentation is completed for all claims, proper communication is maintained with funeral directors, decedents are handled properly, etc.

Health care facilities are asked to complete this survey to request volunteer labor personnel to support their morgue operations. Under profession needed, please type “Mortuary Worker.” Make sure to include specific information about shift dates and times. These staff should be able to assist in the paperwork process also.

Executive Order (EO) 202.15, issued on April 9, 2020, broadens the type of funeral director who can practice in New York State (under the supervision of a New York State-licensed and registered funeral director). DOH’s recent letter includes more information about the EO.

Information for Funeral Directors

Funeral Directors may obtain information regarding a case in OCME’s custody here: www.nyc.gov/fdportal (use NYC ID to login).

Behavioral Health Resource

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)’s Healthcare and Public Health Sector released a COVID-19 update yesterday that included behavioral health resources. The current pandemic can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, especially in the mortuary fields. This resource provides guidance on managing stress among mortuary and death care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.