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May 7, 2012

K.H.M.H. has enough spaces in Morgue; but Police and Pathologist at Rigamortis

Adrian Coye

There have been numerous reports that families are unable to bury their loved ones because the postmortem examinations required by the police department have been, to say the least, at a deathly pace. The only forensic specialist in the country which is hired by the Ministry of National Security is Dr. Mario Estradabran.  According to reports, Estradabran’s contract with the government reached its term on February first, 2012. The negotiations with the ministry are reportedly still ongoing. News Five contacted Estradabran today, seeing that it is widely speculated in the public that the services have slowed down during the negotiation process. Estradabran declined comment citing his commitments and meetings. However an article in Cayo’s Star newspaper dated April twenty ninth, says; “A source within the Police Department informed that…as of last week he has totally discontinued providing the service as he awaits word from the ministry on the new contract. The last postmortem he is said to have conducted on the body of Taylor Street gang leader, Arthur Young….the ministry reportedly sent him a contract, under the same terms and conditions as well as salary, as the previous one. He reportedly refused the offer and instead submitted one with changes in terms, conditions and of course with a sizable salary increase. His submission was reportedly rejected by the ministry prompting the commencement of negotiation for mutually acceptable new arrangements.” The speculation that the bodies are being piled up have been unfairly placed on the shoulders of the country’s primary healthcare provider, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (K.H.M.H.).   The K.H.M.H. houses the bodies brought by the police department, however, the issues that the Ministry of National Security and their forensic specialist has in no way affected the service offered by the KHMH morgue. According to the K.H.M.H.’s Director of Medical Services, the hospital has its own specialist and plenty space in the morgue freezer.


Dr. Adrian Coye, Director of Medical Services, K.H.M.H.  

“The K.H.M.H. provides morgue related services; it’s the only facility to do so in Belize City or the central region. As you know other regions have temporary facilities. But for the country of Belize we have what would be regarded as the state service. We have now a capacity of twenty-one refrigerated areas and that has gone up from the past many months ago from nine. This is something that you will hear more about in the near future. At no point we are at risk of overflowing in respect to the last addition to the services that we’ve had. At no point we’ve been overflowing in the recent weeks as has been suggested by others. If someone was to die within the hospital, then depending on the circumstances related to the death of that person or the unfortunate passing of that person, some of them would require a post mortem—others do not because you may be able to say the cause of death is severe sepsis and a background of illness that will be in keeping with that. But if the death was unexpected or within twenty-four hours of say example an operation, we would want to determine the cause of death and we have within the employ of this hospital, Doctor Sanchez. There is another parallel and that is where we offer the service to the police at large where bodies that require coroner’s cases or postmortems are housed, you know, in our morgue. The postmortem that are done for these patients are usually done by another pathologist or Doctor Estradabran, in particular. So there are two different services in that exist.”


Jose Sanchez

“For clarity’s sake, the police related cases aren’t the responsibility or the charge of Doctor Sanchez or the K.H.M.H. itself.”


Dr. Adrian Coye

“Well they are clearly being housed in our facility and we take great efforts to make sure everything is secure. But our role is only that; to house the bodies and everything else that happens is related to police activity and Doctor Estradabran.”


Jose Sanchez

“Now the current situation at the morgue. How many bodies do we have? Are they police related cases or for the K.H.M.H.?”


Dr. Adrian Coye

“Well we do have right now five deceased from the hospital in the morgue and there are about five that are police related. Again then I say they are totally separate in terms of what happens to them.”


Jose Sanchez

“When it comes to the cases here that do require a postmortem, how long does it usually take per say? A day? How long? What’s the process?”


Dr. Adrian Coye

“Well the postmortems are done usually the next day—first thing in the morning. Usually there is some paper work that happens and if they are presented in a timely manner, then Doctor Sanchez is able to do them early; first thing in the morning and if not, the following day.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “K.H.M.H. has enough spaces in Morgue; but Police and Pathologist at Rigamortis”

  1. Storm says:

    Over the years I have been amazed how many times Dr. Estradabran is unable to determine a cause of death. Undoubtedly many murderers escape justice by his insufficient skills as a coroner.

    I say we should cast a wide net over the Caribbean, maybe also the States and India, to find a doctor better qualified, better trained, who is willing to do the job of public coroner. I think that’s worth a try — what do you think?

  2. Brightman says:

    Agreed, Storm…to have one coroner, who is obviously overwhelmed, may not be the wisest. We need an infusion of competent, young blood (no pun intended).

    The KHMH/Ministry should also take urgent measures in addressing the deplorable state the hospital is in…upkeep has been lacking….many patients with respiratory problems and other illnesses are roomed with windows that have extremely dust-like ‘cement’…not good at all. There is also an urgent need for better health care providers, that is, trained and caring nurses, and competent doctors. Very often, patients go unattended, and when attended, the service provided is inferior.

    The Ministry of Health and the KHMH administrators must address promptly or risk a lawsuit soon enough.

  3. Seletar says:

    Brightman is right about hospitals in the Jewel, not just KHMH. I don’t know what the response would be, but I think it would be worthwhile for some commission to be appointed to see if we can find a foreign medical university that would undertake working with us to improve our hospitals, at least the emergency wards.

    And for the poor gunshot and stabbing victims that come in too often and who have almost no good chance of survival, I think we should try to find some doctors who have had emergency room experience in any of the world’s ongoing warzones. They have seen that kind of wound regularly and will better know how to treat them successfully. I would bet there are good doctors in Iraq, for example, as well as other places, who are super-competent to treat those wounds, and who would welcome to come to a relatively more peaceful place like Belize to practise.

  4. D says:

    Do all Belizeana a favor and get rid of that drunk…when he did my cousin’s post mortem that fool didn’t even touch the body . Amazingly just by looking at the body he determined the cause of dead as trauma to the head.

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