St. Joseph County expected to open long-awaited new morgue this year

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- St. Joseph County is finally getting a morgue. County officials confirmed the new location will be on Mishawaka Avenue, just across the street from Adams High School.

The county already purchased the building, now, it just needs the proper equipment.

Patt McGann, owner of McGann Hay Funeral Homes said the news is long overdue.

"The talk has gone back probably 20 years," he said. "I tell you, there are not many cities our size around the country that do not have a morgue."

He said there simply hasn't been space for all of the county's deceased, often turning to funeral homes like his for storage.

"I remember one time, we had probably 20 bodies in the funeral homes," he said.

And local police departments often have to send bodies to Fort Wayne or Kalamazoo, he said, for autopsies, with local taxpayers picking up the bill.

All that should be changing with the county's investment.

"There's a lack of space at the hospital," said 1st District County Commissioner, Carl Baxmeyer.

The Chief Deputy Coroner, Randy Magdalinski, said the building is being remodeled, and county commissioners voted to provide more than $300,000.

"It's one of those unfortunate things that life causes you to have to deal with," Baxmeyer said.

And people like McGann have hopes the morgue will be a game changer for local funeral homes.

"I hope they have storage for a lot of bodies," McGann said.

Baxmeyer said the county approved an additional $100,000 to the morgue renovations earlier this month.

Autopsies will still have to be performed outside the county, at least until the county can hire a forensic pathologist.

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