‘Even though we may be the last responder, we’re still a responder’: Funeral homes in need of more PPE

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POQUOSON, V.a (WAVY) — The COVID-19 pandemic has made saying goodbye to loved ones different and more difficult than ever before for both families and funeral directors.

Some funeral homes are also facing an issue similar to what hospitals are enduring: a shortage of personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.

George Barry Hamann, the general manager of Claytor Rollins Funeral Home in Poquoson said he’s in need of PPE such as gloves and masks.

“Do I have enough supplies for a few weeks? Yes,” Hamann said. “Do I have enough supplies for a few months? I do not.”

Masks, gloves and gowns are just some of the items Hamann said he’s waiting for, but may not ever receive.

“Here we are in a situation where we’re going into hospitals where we should be fully protected and we’re not able to be because we have such a limited supply,” he said.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, PPE should be worn while preserving human remains if the person died, or is suspected to have died, from COVID-19. Hamann says he hasn’t buried anyone with a confirmed case, but wants to err on the side of caution.

“We have not knowingly buried anybody or performed any last rites for anybody but that’s one of the scary things,” he said.

Hamann adds that not only is this situation scary, but it’s also emotionally taxing. At a time when families would typically embrace their loved ones and hold their hand, virtual goodbyes are the new norm.

“Trying to say goodbye to someone you love and care about over phone or over video or things like that is an extremely emotionally crushing experience,” he said.


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