Supervisors say no morgue now

07/12/2012

The Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday responded to a recent civil grand jury report recommending changes to the way the county handles its deceased. The board said it would continue sharing the Napa County morgue for homicide cases and other suspicious deaths, and help local mortuaries update their facilities. The grand jury report, released in May, was the third since 2001 to call for the creation of a morgue that would consolidate services currently performed in private funeral homes and mortuaries. Those facilities, the jury found, were “unacceptable” and “insufficient,” with minimal security and sanitary conditions that are “sometimes less than desirable.” Marin County now transports the remains from all suspicious deaths to Napa, which built a state-of-the-art facility in 2006; last year five cases were sent there. Yet even those bodies are often sent to Marin mortuaries first, a concern for some, including former county coroner Ken Holmes. Other than constructing a new morgue, the jury suggested retrofitting an existing county space. But supervisors agreed Tuesday that given present financial constraints, neither of those options were viable. “I will say that during my tenure, our county has looked very hard at creating a morgue... [and] there’s a better way to do this that’s more fiscally responsible and still meets the needs of our community,” board president Steve Kinsey said. Matthew Hymel, Marin County Administrator, said the county was working with one mortuary to provide increased security. “If there’s some way we can give advantages to local mortuaries while still reaching across the board, I’d be interested in that,” said Mr. Kinsey, noting that smaller mortuaries were continuing to shutter their doors.