Fresno County leaders break ground on new morgue

FRESNO, Calif.

"We've developed a building that we can keep clean, that can control odors, that has an exceptionally efficient workflow and will accommodate all of the current technology, and the technology of the future," said Fresno County Coroner Dr. David Hadden.

The new forensic center will replace an aging building that was never meant to be a morgue. Families dealing with the loss of a loved one are currently greeted by a drab staircase. Downstairs, the conditions are worse. Last year, Action News saw maggots in the autopsy room. Now, fly paper keeps pests away from the three autopsy stations. The new facility will have five stations and a separate room exclusively for homicide investigations. "You have to worry about defense attorneys making up the idea that because there's a body here and a body here, there was cross contamination and so forth," said Dr. Hadden.

Dr. Hadden says a cluttered autopsy room makes it hard to keep things clean. The new facility will also feature a new refrigeration unit with four times the current capacity. The $7.4 million dollar facility will have more storage space and includes a second phase that will be built when needed, as funding becomes available.

When complete, the new morgue will be paid in full with funds from a 2006 tobacco settlement and asset backed bonds. "It's very difficult to construct new facilities in the tough times we're in, but you have to plan for the next generation to come," said County Administrative Officer John Navarrette.

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