It’s a taboo topic…
“It sucks to talk about, but it’s something that everyone is going to have to face,” said one York County resident.
But one York County officials are encouraging people to talk about anyway.
“Death is part of life, just like birth is part of life. And we do have to think about it,” said Susan Byrnes, President Commissioner in York County.
And when you do, pick a funeral home, they say, because the space York County currently uses as a morgue is just too crowded.
“Currently there are, in general, eight adult spots and a walk in, which is generally utilized for larger decedents. And that is for the entire county of 443,000 plus,” said Pam Gay, York County coroner.
Right now, York County doesn’t have its own morgue, and shares those eight spots with York Hospital.
And while York County officials say they are grateful for the hospital’s generosity, they have simply outgrown the space.
“We’re constantly moving people in and out. So what used to be a inclement weather thing is now a several times a month thing,” said Gay.
A growing population inevitably means more deaths, and with the opioid crisis, Gay says the numbers are growing faster than ever before.
“We can’t keep going the way we’re going right now. I’m actually looking to buy some temporary coolers right now just to house some of our decomps because we just don’t have the space,” said Gay.
That’s why she’s hoping the county will create its own morgue, similar to the ones in Adams and Lancaster Counties.
County Commissioners are on board, but they agree it won’t come cheap.
“Any kind of services that we York Countians get from York County government does cost money, so yes, to renovate a building or even build a building, there’s always a possibility it would cost tax payer dollars,” said Byrnes.
But taxpayers we spoke with say it’s something they are willing to pay for.
“Sure, I’m surprised we don’t have one already to be honest.”
“It’s just taxes. You’ve got to pay them anyway.”
And Gay assures the public that something like this is just as much for the living as it is for the dead.
“It’s affecting their emotional well-being, it’s affecting how their loved ones are cared for at death. It’s affecting them in so many ways and i hope they can understand that,” said Gay.
County Commissioners have been scouting locations, and hope to find a solution within the next two years.