Mortally scared of a mortuary

Mortally scared of a mortuary

Morgue at Victoria’s is modernised, but no politico wants to inaugurate it

Victoria Hospital has a swank new mortuary, for it has not been inaugurated for two years as politicians, fearful of association with a mortuary, are avoiding invitation to inaugurate it.

Repeated requests to ministers to inaugurate the mortuary at the City’s premier hospital have fallen on deaf ears. Many a time, dates were finalised and cancelled, citing weird reasons.

Not wanting to make public their morbid fears,  local politicians made it out to be a protocol issue for public consumption.

When Deccan Herald contacted Health Minister S Ramdas, he went to great lengths to avoid the topic, discussing other issues instead.

When coaxed, he gave a circumspect answer: “I have informed the concerned to fix a suitable date, it will happen...don’t worry.”

Green signal

Sources said the minister has given the green signal to the mortuary to start functioning unofficially without a formal inauguration ceremony. But the authorities are not ready.
The mortuary seems to be a nobody’s child. Given the critical need of the mortuary by police for autopsy reports, and evidence from forensic experts being key to convictions in courts, the police department should have taken the lead to fund the modernisation. But they didn’t.

Money wasted

“Sadly, the Home Department has turned a Nelson’s eye and doesn’t even bother to spend a penny. Under the police modernisation scheme, pots of money have gone down the drain but they have failed to take the forensic staff into their fold. The entire money - Rs 48 lakh -  spent on modernising the mortuary has come from the user fee  charged on poor patients visiting hospitals,” a police officer said.

Though the history of mortuary at the City’s premier hospital dates to 1900, it is only now that it got a real facelift.

Earlier, forensic staff used to remove bodies from the mortuary just hours after the post mortem, as the centre had no cold storage facility.

Now, the mortuary can hold 48 bodies at any given point of time. It also has a high-security cold storage that can store 12 bodies.

“There are instances where notorious rowdies, criminals and gang leaders’ bodies are forcibly kept in the mortuary for a few days. There are instances when the courts also order that certain bodies be kept for further examinations. During this period, security is of utmost importance.

“Keeping that in mind, we have designed and provided separate space with state-of-the-art technology with provision for keeping a dozen bodies,” said an expert.

The mortuary is undoubtedly one of the best in South India as students from the neighbouring states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry come here to learn the nuances of autopsy, says O S Siddappa, Dean and director of the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, who also heads the Victoria, Bowring, Minto and Vani Vilas hospitals.

Cold storage facility

“Under the present trend of  having a nuclear family, if parents die when children are abroad, then their bodies are needed to be stored till the return of children to let them have a last glimpse of their loved ones.

“In such situations, our mortuary comes in handy. The public can utilise our mortuary’s cold storage facilities for a nominal fee. For the same facility, elsewhere, they have to cough up huge sums of money,” says Siddappa.