(CNN) –– With an area of 566 hectares and eight fields, the Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary is the largest cemetery in North America, but this has not stopped Covid-19 from pushing it to the limit. It is located in southern California.
But the number of deaths related to covid-19 since festivities It has challenged their ability to a great extent. To the point that grieving families have to wait a month for funeral services. Meanwhile, the cemetery has had to order refrigeration units to store the bodies.
“Hospitals have really been affected. Their morgues are filling up, ”Patrick Monroe, Rose Hills president and CEO, told CNN. “Our goal was that when a family called we would always be able to say ‘yes, we can go. We can go find your loved one. ‘
Refrigeration is the latest adaptation that the Rose Hills Cemetery, located east of Los Angeles, has had to cope with covid-19.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health banned funerals in closed spaces. So the cemetery has set up tents for outdoor visits and funeral services throughout its memorial park. It also offers live streaming services.
For families who want to wait until restrictions are lifted, Rose Hills temporarily buries the bodies of their loved ones.
After requests for services spiked after Thanksgiving, the cemetery struggled to keep up with demand. The typical wait time for services at Rose Hills is one week. Now, families wait up to five weeks.
“People have been very supportive,” Monroe said.
In many cases, the families of the deceased were unable to visit them during their final days due to admission restrictions to hospitals.
“They still want to do traditional things,” Monroe explained. They want to have a burial.
All 750 Rose Hills employees have held out despite the lawsuit, Monroe said.
“People who enter this line of work have a very empathetic and compassionate disposition,” he said. “The hardest thing I hear from employees is that they want to serve families the best they can, but it has been such a huge demand. This takes its toll ».
Monroe said Rose Hills offers employees additional assistance programs. There is included a special compensation, along with break rooms with snacks to support the well-being of the employees.
The long-term cost, he said, remains to be seen.
“Until now they have shown a lot of resilience,” he said. But, you know, we’ve been at it for a year.