Outsourcing excuse offered for bodies switched by funeral homes

The grief of two Colorado families was compounded when the bodies of their loved ones got switched, resulting in the wrong patient getting cremated, a Denver investigation has discovered. The deceased men, one who was white and the other who was black, were wearing identification wristbands at the time of the mix-up.

Just maybe – someone might have noticed the deceased were described as different colors?

Robert Mitchell, of Denver, and Perry Heath, of Aurora, Colo., died at The Denver Hospice on Nov. 10, according to an investigation by Denver’s 9News.com. The families began their respective funeral preparations; unbeknownst to them, many Colorado funeral homes outsource their work, and their late family members were about to go through a complex maze of third-party providers.

Perry Heath was supposed to be cremated. His family arranged for a cremation through 5280 Cremation and Funeral Services of Aurora…Despite its name, 5280 Cremation does not perform cremations, and outsourced the work to a third-party provider.

That same day…Robert Mitchell’s family made arrangements for his burial. They hired Taylor Funeral and Cremation Services, also of Aurora, to handle his viewing, and funeral. Taylor doesn’t have a mortuary, though, so they hired a transport company to pick up Mitchell’s body and take it to a separate embalming company.

The outsourced transport workers arrived at The Denver Hospice on Nov. 10 for Mitchell and Heath as scheduled, but that’s when things went wrong.

According to 9News, Metropolitan Mortuary Services took Heath’s body, slapping a band on his wrist with Mitchell’s name on it next to one that bore his real name. And SI Funeral Services removed Mitchell’s body from the hospice.

The error became evident when Taylor Funeral Home received Heath’s body a few days before what was supposed to be Mitchell’s viewing and funeral. Mitchell is black, and this white body clearly wasn’t his. Meantime, Mitchell had been cremated by another company.

Both transport contractors blamed The Denver Hospice. They told 9News they were directed to the bodies by staff members.

Uh, they didn’t have any paperwork describing who they were picking up? Cripes – all the years I worked in traffic management you had to have a piece of paper describing what [or who in this case] was being picked up – and someone had a piece of paper to sign to validate any transfer.

Aside from no one of responsibility apparently handling a transaction involving the deceased at the hospice – these mortuaries are running their business with the least expensive options handling the low bid pickup. Did they send out cousin Bubba with his pickup truck or what?

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