The Dignified Transfer Center, or what has been referred to as a “surge morgue” in other jurisdictions, is nearing its completion. The facility is located at 4334 Rider Trail North, Building D, in Earth City, Missouri 63045.
The creation of this facility is a proactive measure done out of preparedness that will provide relief to hospitals, morgues, and funeral homes. The hope is to never utilize this building, but we have a responsibility to prepare. It is 29,000-square-feet and capable of holding 1,300 decedents in a worst case scenario, which is not anticipated to happen.
There is an average of 28 lives lost each day in St. Louis County outside of COVID-19. According to the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office, there were 9,916 deaths reported to them in 2019 and 10,253 deaths in 2018. The overwhelming majority of these deaths are attributable to natural causes or medical events. Others are lost to violence, suicide, or overdose.
The capacity that facilities like hospitals, morgues, and funeral homes have is finite. This limited space has the potential to be exhausted when funerals are not being held in a timely fashion, which could be attributable to a variety of factors, including, but not limited to:
Much of the region has aligned in the collaborative effort of creating the Dignified Transfer Center. This helps ensure that the neighbors we say goodbye to are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Great care and attention will be paid to their religious, cultural, and familial traditions, while protecting public health.
The facility was created through memorandums of understanding between St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Franklin County, and Jefferson County. Construction was completed using contracted vendors from these four counties and the State of Missouri. Money allocated for the project has a possibility of being reimbursed through federal emergency funding, but this currently remains unknown. The projected construction cost is approximately $2 million.
Professionals throughout the facility and especially those coming in direct contact with the deceased will be dressed in the appropriate level of personal protective equipment.
The facility will be secured at all times. Access to the private property will be restricted to families of the deceased who have made appointments and authorized personnel only.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hotline can be reached at (877) 435-8411.
St. Louis County has created a website dedicated to the dissemination of information relating to COVID-19, stlcorona.com. Please visit that website or those belonging to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most current and reputable information.