UNC Health Southeastern uses mobile morgue due to Covid-19 deaths


ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — Currently at UNC Health Southeastern, staff are having to use a mobile morgue because their on-site one is full due to COVID-19 deaths.

Joann Anderson, the hospital’s president and CEO took to social media to express her frustration and show the community the harsh reality the hospital is in. Anderson said hospital beds and the ICU are also full, causing a strain on hospital staff and resources.

“We had our highest census of COVID patients yesterday at 59. That’s the most we’ve had since this started. My fear, it’s just going to get worse over the next few weeks,” Anderson said. “It’s spreading at a very rapid rate in our community and that scares me.”

At UNC Health Southeastern, there have been 39 COVID-19 deaths in the month of August alone. That is the highest number of deaths in one month since March 2020. Robeson County has the lowest vaccination rate in North Carolina with only 29% of people fully vaccinated.

“The youngest one so far that has died that I am aware of is 23. We’ve had individuals in their 90s. So pretty wide-ranged, but we’ve had infants diagnosed with COVID,” Anderson said.

Anderson said her Facebook post where she expressed her frustration with the current state of the pandemic was her last resort and plea to the community to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“My original post at the end I said I feel like I am failing. I’m failing my community. I’m failing team. My team is exhausted,” Anderson said. “My responsibility as the CEO is to try and help them. So the only way I know how to help them is to ask the community to help them. If we are all working towards the same goal then we’ll end up in a good place. We’re not in a good place right now.”

Anderson’s full Facebook post:

“Soooo…this happened this week. It breaks my heart and at the same time It infuriates me. These are the pictures of a mobile morgue. This is where we place a body until a funeral home can puck it up. We had to have it delivered and placed onsite at the hospital because we have had so many deaths from COVID in such a short period of time. Yes, we have an on-site morgue. It’s full!!!! We were left with no choice. This is so sad snd so senseless in many cases. There are some out there who think I am padding the numbers, being overly dramatic or, eeven worse…”elevating the numbers so we get paid more!! That INFURIATES ME. Why would I inflate numbers? This is serious, it’s deadly!! Now , we have a mobile morgue. Today, there are 57 COVID positive patients at SRMC. THIS IS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF INPATIENTS WE HAVE HAD SINCE THIS STARTED! The ICU is still full, the designated COVID unit is full. The ER is holding patients until a bed opens up by discharge to home or possibly to the mobile morgue. As I have said, the team at Southeastern is there for you. They want to do everything they can to help you when you need medical help. In this kind of situation, we will but it won’t be under normal circumstances. Today, we got a call from a facility in SC. They wanted to know if we could take transfers….NO!! They were holding 28 in the ER who needed a bed. I beg you to take this serious. Once you get. COVID, we cannot give you a vaccine! If you have been vaccinated, you can still get COVID but you are less likely to need hospitalization and if you do, you will most likely go home in a matter of a few days without needing ICU or a ventilator. It is definitely your choice. Think carefully about that decision. Help us help you. Help my team do their jobs. My team is exhausted yet they come back because they care. This is not unique to UNC Health Southeastern. This scenario is being played out all across our state. The public has to be a part of the solution. Don’t just listen to social media, politicians or others outside the medical field. You have trusted us in the past. Why are we not being trusted now? I’m frustrated like never before.”

Since Anderson made her post, she tells News 13 that she has noticed a change in the conversation among the community and she hopes more people will get vaccinated.

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