University of Michigan Medical Center's revamped morgue boasts safety, education and reduced odors
With gleaming white walls and four sparkling stainless steel autopsy workstations, the morgue at the University of Michigan has undergone a facelift that was completed last week.
Just days ago, workers were putting the final touches on the newly refurbished morgue, a brightly-lit collection of rooms buried in the basement of the U-M Medical Center.
In recent days, electric work was completed on the walk-in refrigerators, which now boast double the storage space for bodies. Now twice as many autopsies can be completed at one time.
"It will provide an increase in the regional capacity for disasters and other situations where there might be an increased demand for body storage," said Jeffrey Jentzen, U-M’s director of autopsy and forensic services. The revamped autopsy and body storage areas offer the morgue better ability to handle large “disasters,” and better cooperation with the local medical examiner, he said.
The project, which cost $1.35 million, was created in partnership with the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s office, which contributed $250,000.Â Officials tout itÂ as offering better opportunities to teach students, who will now be able to observe medical-examiner-directed autopsies.
Up to 600 cases per year can be conducted in the new morgue, Jentzen said.
The updates includedÂ structural changes, such as improved air systems to control the spread of infectious diseases and odors.Â They also included removal of the crypt-style drawersÂ where bodies were storedÂ while awaiting pickup by funeral directors.
One of the most marked changes is an observation room that allows students or police to view an autopsy.
It reduces the risk of injury for the person performing the autopsy. That individual could beÂ using sharp instrumentsÂ such asÂ body saws and previously could have been disrupted by observers asking questions or fainting from the odor, French said.
"I thinkÂ ... what gets everyone is the smell, not the sight and then they go down," French said. "I'm hoping this will eliminate that process. We'll see what happens."
Tina Reed covers health and the environment for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at 723-623-2535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.