The owners of a Pilbara-based funeral service business have lashed out at the Hedland Health Campus for allegedly refusing to store dead bodies that were “too fat”.
Pilbara Funeral Services co-owner Joanne Cummings said she went through three tanks of petrol after being forced to leave a body in her car with the air-conditioning running until alternative arrangements could be made.
“We’ve got a huge issue with the health campus; they removed all the equipment from the mortuary, which means that we can’t unload bodies,” she said.
“We’ve got a 200kg body in the fridge which I took up (last) Wednesday, which can’t go on their equipment because they say: ‘it’s not rated enough’.
"It’s a load of crap… I could probably put a baby elephant in one of those fridges and it’d fit through the door, and they’re refusing entry for a human being.
“My issue is if that was your father, mother, partner, whomever it might be deceased, you wouldn’t want them refused entry into the mortuary.”
Ms Cummings said this latest refusal was not the first time there had been issues with the campus.
“Say 12 months ago, I turned up at the hospital, we had a deceased person in Port Hedland,” she said.
“This gentleman weighed 250kg, we got him and we had to pick him up from the house, load him into the car and (a staff member) walked out and … said: ‘he’s too fat, he can’t go in the fridge’ — you can’t say things like that,” she said.
“Imagine if this was your mother.”
WA Country Health Service regional director Ron Wynn said the hospital only had equipment allowing the storage of bodies up to 150kg, but would now investigate installing equipment with a capacity for up to 300kg.
“Staff will meet with the Pilbara Funeral Services to develop a formal agreement for receiving and storing deceased persons at Hedland Health Campus,” he said.
“It is imperative that at all times a deceased person is treated with the utmost care and respect and viewings are arranged so as not to cause distress and inconvenience to grieving families.
“The Pilbara Funeral Service does not have body storage facilities in Port Hedland and Karratha and therefore the hospital mortuaries have assisted.
“However, the Newman funeral director does have storage.
“This is … carried out on a goodwill basis and there is no fee.”