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PMH: Morgue Services Need Reviewing

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Everyone wishes dignity in death for their loved ones, however, morgue services at PMH are not a conduit of this dignity I speak of.



NASSAU, BAHAMAS – When I was a very young child, my mom would always recite the poem, “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at funerals of our loved ones. I would roll my eyes while fidgeting in a church pew because the poem was almost commonplace to me as I had heard it so many times.

Here is an excerpt from that poem:

Twilight and evening bell,

      And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

      When I embark;

   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

      The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

      When I have crost the bar.

Having read just the excerpt, it was clear that the writer wanted to ride out into the abyss of death in dignity and peace. Everyone wishes that for their loved ones, however, morgue services at the Princess Margaret Hospital are not a conduit of this dignity I speak of. 

The recent death of my belovéd sister exposed me to this morgue system when my family went there to identify her body. Seemed like a simple process until we were faced with what I can only refer to as an antiquated system which should have been made obsolete many moons ago. 

Not to dwell on the extreme heat that appeared to plummet flames directly from hell on our faces, but when we left this morgue we looked like the California Raisins singing group. That was the first thing – we were hanging around outside like refugees, as there was nowhere to be seated on the inside or anywhere for that matter. I cannot believe in modern 2023, we have to go through archaic, bizarre processes like this. 

The second thing – the hours for identifying bodies are 9 am to 12 pm. If you intend to be served on the day you arrive there you have to be in queue by at least 7:45 am and wait until 9 am to go inside and leave the I.D.s of the deceased loved ones. After you’ve done this, you return to the boiling hot sun, standing up for hours until your loved one’s name is bellowed out of the lower throat of an officer of the law with no decency or dignity and respect for the deceased. 

At this point you return to the building to officially identify the body and this can last from 15 minutes to half an hour. Our journey of officially identifying my sister’s body spanned over three days – two days of being turned away and finally on the last day we got it done. 

After an estimated six or seven people have queued up to identify bodies and have put in the necessary documents of identification, others who have arrived are turned away and told, “We have met our quota for the day”. 

So after standing in the hot sun, inhaling the stench of human waste, the stench of the blood bank and watching a truck roll around every 15 minutes with foul smelling bags on it, you have to go home unaccomplished and return to more of the same the next day. 

The whole system seemed like some real sub-third-world foolishness and infuriated a whole lot of people who were out there enduring raging heat. 

I pray the government of The Bahamas is not going to wait until the proposed new hospital that I’ve been hearing about since I was knee-high to a grasshopper is built to correct this situation. This needs to be addressed right now. When people are there to identify a loved one they are already in a highly emotional state, therefore they should not be put through such an archaic system which involves them possibly making the same emotional trip to this horrid place for consecutive days. 

After this process, the waiting game begins and most will have to wait for a long time for the bodies of their loved ones to be released for burial. 

We just celebrated 50 years of independence. We are called the jewel of the Caribbean. We are the envy of many a Caribbean nation, therefore we should rid ourselves of these old, disrespectful systems. Well that’s how I see it anyway.