Questions concerning closures of Medical Examiners' offices in Bronx, Staten Island

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Jim Dolan has the story.

There are disturbing questions from grieving family members about why New York City closed the morgues in the Bronx and Staten Island.

They were shut down two years ago, but now there are new questions about why that happened and why families are delaying funerals because of it.

When a family contacts Granby's Funeral Home in the Bronx, a funeral director from Granby's has to do some detective work.

"When a death occurs here in the Bronx, we do not know what Medical Examiner's Office we have to go and pick up the deceased from," said Ayris Granby, Funeral Director.

Ms. Granby says sometimes it's Queens, and sometimes it's Manhattan. That's because in 2015, the Medical Examiner closed its Bronx and Staten Island offices.

You may say, sure this is inconvenient for folks in the Bronx and Staten Island, but at least they are saving a lot of taxpayer money, right? No, they're not.

"There's no financial savings. All of the employees are in the three other boroughs, not in Staten Island and the Bronx, at the consolidated sites, so there's really no expense budget money that they're saving," said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, (D) Bronx.

A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Office says the new system is more efficient.

"On average," she said, "It takes less than 45 minutes for funeral directors to complete the checkout process at any of the mortuary locations." and, that may be true, but...

"If I'm going to Queens, it's going to take me 45 minutes just to get past the bridge in good traffic, and then to get to the Medical Examiner's office. If it's going to be in Manhattan, again, a 45 minute to a hour drive going to Manhattan," Granby said.

And that is more time the families have to wait.

"To have to wait to get confirmation where they are is exasperating, especially when a family member says, 'I want my loved one out of that morgue,'" Granby said.

"I want the city to think in human terms, and in human terms this is a decision that was inappropriate that we now can reverse," Vacca said.
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