What Is a Mortuary?

Typically associated with hospitals and medical centers, morgues are usually refrigerated drawer-like compartments large enough to hold an adult. They store bodies until they are positively identified or an autopsy is done.

Most people are familiar with morgues from movies and TV shows. But what do they really look like?

The Embalming and Preparation Area

While the mortuary does contain a morgue, the focus of a mortuary is not so much body storage but rather preparation for burial or cremation. This preparation includes washing, disinfecting and embalming the body.

Embalming is used to improve the appearance of the remains and can help to prevent deterioration in the days leading up to a funeral. It is not considered to be a long term preservative.

The process is accomplished by introducing a solution of embalming fluid into the blood vessels of the body. Typically, 3 gallons of this fluid will be circulated through the body for thorough disinfection and preservation.

Before this is done a doctor will examine the deceased for signs of disease or trauma and mark the body for proper placement of tubes. A tube will be inserted into the carotid artery and another into the jugular vein which allows the embalmer to inject chemicals directly into these blood vessels to replace blood. This is known as arterial embalming.

The Trays

Mortuaries are equipped with stainless-steel tables and refrigerated storage units. They must also contain a safety shower, eye and face wash equipment and handbasins for staff.

Besides being a place where embalming and preparation take place, the morgue is also used to conduct medical examinations on corpses before funerals or cremations. As a result, morticians need to be highly trained in preparing and conducting autopsies.

Mortuaries are often very busy and can be stressful places for employees. Because of this, it’s important that all employees practice safe handling procedures. It is also essential that all medical equipment, including trays, be sanitized on a regular basis. Any trays that are contaminated should be placed in a sharps container and taken away for proper disposal by a medical waste management company. This helps to reduce the risk of infection in both the mortuary and funeral home. In addition, it is a good idea for mortuaries and funeral homes to have geiger counters in case any of the corpses turn out to be radioactive.

The Sink

Mortuary work is sensitive and requires high levels of care and consideration. Your mortuary must provide essential equipment to ensure hygiene, safety and efficiency.

In this photo you can see a standard white mortuary tray and an autoclave (sink), used to sterilise tools. Also in the photo is a red ‘head block’, which helps to keep the head raised during embalming and prevents purging. You can also see the ‘draining sink’, which looks a bit like your bathroom or kitchen sink, and is used to drain blood and fluids during embalming.

A Morgue, also called a Mortuary Unit, is usually located within the hospital premises for storage of bodies for viewing and identification purposes. It is designed to serve the needs of hospital staff, relatives of the deceased and authorised persons. Enhanced security is provided for this area to keep the bodies safe from intruders and from public areas. It is well connected to Anatomical Pathology laboratories and relevant clinical areas for transportation of laboratory specimens, if required.

The Machine

The Machine is a secret society that reportedly controls student government elections and selects homecoming queen candidates. The group is a coalition of Panhellenic sororities and IFC and NPHC fraternities, and is supposedly backed by the state’s powerful alumni network. Fabien Zinga, a Black independent candidate for SGA president, claims he received racial threats from the Machine and that his campaign signs were defaced. Emails have been cited showing sororities and fraternities voting for Machine-backed candidates in exchange for privileges, including limousine transportation to vote and free drinks.

A freshman sorority member featured in the Bama Rush trailer says she is embarrassed for those still involved with the Machine. She believes student apathy is one reason Machine-backed candidates win, but wants the campus community to know what’s really going on behind closed doors. She adds that Machine members also infiltrate honor societies and campus organizations. Voters who go against the Machine’s wishes allegedly face personal and house-wide repercussions.

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