If someone asks you to find an article or blog post written over the past several weeks not referencing the coronavirus, you would be hard-pressed to comply. The topic has been front-of-mind and top-of-tongue for virtually every person living on Planet Earth. This obsession includes the funeral industry. And while we deal with death on a daily basis, we join the rest of humanity in feeling out of our depth when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington Post just ran a story outside of their paywall, so that everyone could read, about the fact that hospital staff members are debating whether to issue “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” orders for everyone who tests positive for the disease. The Post reports: “The conversations are driven by the realization that the risk to staff amid dwindling stores of protective equipment — such as masks, gowns and gloves — may be too great to justify the conventional response when a patient ‘codes,’ and their heart or breathing stops.”
The Funeral Industry and COVID-19
Clearly, coronavirus is relevant to life and death conversations on many fronts. For our part, the outbreak impacts not only the way we collect human remains but the way we interact with clients.
Although our business is deemed “essential” by the Powers that Be, COVID-19 impacts our process in many ways:
- We must conduct all meetings with prospective and current clients online or on the phone. Early adopters of technology (especially for the funeral industry), we have relied on these methods for years, along with offering in-person care – so we can provide whatever type of service they prefer. Government mandates electronic communication. In certain cases, however, we will even drop paperwork off and leave it on the porch for clients who do not have access or prefer not to use digital platforms.
- We follow regulations to the letter when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with body collection and taking bodies into care. We have added a layer of protection for employees on first-call removals. While staff members have always worn gloves, we now add face masks and cover the remains for employee and the family’s protection. We have always carefully disinfected every surface before and after we work with remains. We have only intensified these efforts.
- Guidelines limit largest gatherings for funerals and memorials to 10. This includes funeral staff members. Some families prefer holding memorials later, after authorities lift rigid social distancing guidelines.
- New guidelines have not changed family preferences relative to burial verses cremation. For the most part, people make end-of-life decisions based on spiritual and philosophical beliefs as well as tradition. We will continue to cremate when that is what our clients desire. In the same way, we prepare, embalm and/or store bodies for burial, based on the family’s decision.
- We still accommodate viewing requests, as long as the 10-member-at-a-time maximums are observed.
- Obviously, we carefully monitor the health of every employee, both for their safety as well as the health and safety of our clients.
- To read about industry standards relative to COVID-19, check out the National Funeral Directors Association guidelines as well as the Funeral Directors Association of Los Angeles County.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services in Glendora, California
When the time comes, if you so desire, we would value the opportunity to help you pre-plan for yourself or a family member or friend. Feel free to contact us now to pre-plan your own memorial or at your time of need (626) 335-0615. Our relationship with United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart provide great places for mourners to host funerals and memorials. You’ll love the grandiose yet intimate settings in both locations.