Northern Health has temporarily moved a refrigeration unit to Mills Memorial Hospital. (The Terrace Standard photo)

Northern Health moves reefer unit to Mills Memorial

The move is not related to COVID-19

Northern Health has quickly reacted to worries about why it has moved a mobile refrigeration unit to Mills Memorial Hospital.

“This step is necessary to ensure adequate and appropriate resources for storage of remains, and is not directly related to COVID-19,” says Eryn Collins from Northern Health.

“There have been no deaths related to COVID-19 in the Northern Health region.”

What has taken place, Collins added, are timelines relating to the removal of remains from its morgue to some funeral home operations.

READ MORE: First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

“We are aware of some impacts on timelines for funeral home operations,” said Collins in describing the placement of the reefer unit as a temporary measure to deal with an issue specific to Terrace and nowhere else.

“Other services retrieving remains from our custody is a factor; on top of the typical flow of morgue cases which would obviously fluctuate,” she said.

“The situation that we all hope is temporary, was the driving factor.”

“As we work and plan to add capacity across our services, the fact Mills Memorial brought the unit on site for other reasons means that if needing additional morgue capacity became part of our plans or needs, as a specific COVID-19 response measure, then the site would already have that in place,” Collins said.

Mills Memorial this week was named as one of 19 hospitals in B.C. designated as a primary care center for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.

READ MORE: Mills Memorial named primary COVID-19 treatment facility

Its on-site services include an intensive care ward equipped with ventilators.

And it has cancelled elective and non-emergent surgery as well as discharging patients when possible to free up beds if and when needed.

As of yesterday afternoon, there were 15 reported cases of COVID-19 within the Northern Health region with five people among that number receiving hospital care.

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