Orleans has mortuary trailer just in case hospital overwhelmed

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2020 at 12:19 pm

Emergency Management Office receives shipment of PPE for first responders, healthcare workers

Photo by Tom Rivers: Albion Fire Chief Harry Papponetti wears a surgical facemask when he responded to a car accident on Thursday morning in Albion. That was the first day Albion firefighters started wearing masks on all calls. Previously, they were wearing them for EMS calls only.

MEDINA – Orleans County is trying to prepare for the worst with Covid-19. That’s why there is a white refrigerated trailer outside Medina Memorial Hospital. That trailer would function as a temporary mortuary in case the local hospital and the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office is overwhelmed.

The county also has ordered 200 body bags for the trailer in a worst-case scenario, the said Dale Banker, the director of the Emergency Management Office in Orleans County.

The county has suffered two deaths to Covid-19 so far since the pandemic started. Medina Memorial Hospital only has room to keep two bodies of deceased people. The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office also could be in a situation where it has too many bodies and can’t accept more, Banker said.

The trailer at Medina has room for about 35 bodies and has been on site for about two weeks. The county, acting on a recommendation from the state, is leasing the refrigerated trailer for a month, and will look at whether extending that lease is needed, Banker said today.

“Hopefully it won’t get to that stage and won’t be needed,” Banker said today.

The Orleans County Emergency Management Office orders many of the supplies and equipment for first responders and health care workers.

The EMO last week received a shipment of personal protective equipment, including sought-after testing kits for Covid-19, 10,000 surgical masks, 240 N-95 respirators and 4,000 pairs of rubber gloves.

The 10,000 medical masks have been shared with firefighters, law enforcement officers, Medina Memorial Hospital workers, and employees at Arc group homes, Hospice of Orleans and home health care agencies. Only 3,500 of the surgical masks are left.

The PPE supplies won’t last long and the EMO has ordered a bigger supply, Banker said.

The county has sought 3,400 testing kits for the Health Department, but has only received 100 total, including 50 on Saturday, he said.

“It’s unfortunate for the smaller rural counties like us,” Banker said about the testing kits and supplies. “They’ve been fair. But it’s not enough.”

The orders to the state through “NY Responds” are managed by the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and the State Office of Emergency Management.

The new order includes requests for 500 of the N-95 masks, 10,000 surgical masks and 20,000 pairs of rubber gloves. The Orleans EMO also is continuing its request for more testing kits.

The equipment is expected to be covered 75 percent by the federal government, which has declared Covid-19 an emergency in all 50 states. That declaration brings with it a 75 percent funding commitment from the federal government for equipment and overtime costs for government personnel.

The EMO also is contending with the high Lake Ontario waters and is managing sandbags and water bladders “AquaDams” for the lakeshore towns.

Carlton has put in a order for 80 pallets of sandbags. The EMO then requests sandbags from the state for Carlton. Banker said inmates at the Orleans Correctional Facility will be filling those sandbags.

Return to top