June 17, 2024
EDITORIAL: Regional morgue could save money and time | Opinion

Often when communities consider consolidation or sharing services, they’re talking about obvious areas that overlap, like road maintenance and billing for water and sewer, or taking advantage of economies of scale to purchase road salt or office equipment.

But another reason why communities might want to combine efforts is because the service is unavailable locally or because the costs they’re all experiencing for the same service have become prohibitive.

That appears to be the case with a government function that many people might find uncomfortable to discuss, but which is necessary nonetheless — dealing with the dead.

Specifically morgue facilities and the services of qualified forensic pathologists to perform autopsies.

Communities in our area generally rely on hospitals or private facilities for this service. But many are unable to handle the volume of work sent to them by county governments or charge very high rates for the service.

Proposed morgue attracts interest in Hamilton, Fulton counties

In many cases, counties have to arrange for transportation of bodies to facilities far outside the local region — places like Syracuse, Binghamton and Poughkeepsie — resulting in higher costs for services and also delays in obtaining the results of autopsies for families and law enforcement.

With no reliable local facilities able to handle all of their caseloads, some local counties are considering entering into an arrangement with Warren County, which is looking into building a new regional morgue at or near the county government complex off Adirondack Northway Exit 20, just south of Lake George.

A new regional facility might be able to serve several local counties, including Hamilton, Fulton, Saratoga, Washington and Rensselaer counties.

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Proposed morgue attracts interest in Hamilton, Fulton counties

Having their own regional pathologist and morgue available within a reasonable distance could result in taxpayer savings and less inconvenience for families, funeral homes and local governments.

The Warren County project is still in the planning phase, and fees for the services haven’t yet been determined.

But considering the current access issues and high costs of autopsies, it would be wise for local counties to investigate and consider the benefits of this unusual form of intermunicipal cooperation.

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