New morgue aims to help with shortage in Montgomery County

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. -- A new morgue that's nearly double the bed size of the current one is in the planning process for Montgomery County. The increase in bed space couldn't come at a better time for a county that's seeing an increase in drug overdose deaths.

The current morgue is housed inside the Crawfordsville campus of Franciscan Health. There are only two beds. The need for more space has been a topic of discussion among county officials and leaders for many years. When those two beds are full, the county seeks help from funeral directors.

They would utilize Tippecane or Marion Counties in the case of an emergency.

Montgomery County Coroner Darren Forman said an increase in overdose deaths is part of the problem. This year, the county has had 11 overdose deaths.

"The morgue space is needed to house the body until we complete our investigation and until the family can make their decision as to what they need to do as far as the remains," Forman said.

Forman said many of the overdose deaths are young people and those deaths are unexpected. When an elderly person or someone with a life-threatening illness dies, the families have plans for funeral arrangements.

"Unfortunately, we don't have those discussions when we're talking to an upper teens to 20-year-old person. Those families, it takes a little while to work through, so it's usually a day or two extra where they're kind of getting themselves organized and making the arrangements," Forman explained.

The county is getting some much needed help. A facility owned by The City of Crawfordsville will be turned into a multi-use space to house emergency officials. It will also include a new morgue that will have 8-10 additional beds. The current morgue at the hospital will also still be in use.

According to Forman, the new morgue isn't a direct result of an increase in overdose deaths, but it is good timing.

"This building became available and the county was able to locate monies to purchase the cooler," said Forman.

The hope is that the space will also be more inviting and comfortable for families to mourn the loss of their loves ones.

"That is of the most importance to families. We see that a lot, even with patients that are expected to die. Old age, or chronic disease, or whatever the case may be, they need a private place," said Terry Klein, COO of the Crawfordsville campus of Franciscan Health.

The new facility should be complete mid-January.

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