OMI: No fees charged for storage of bodies - Albuquerque Journal

OMI: No fees charged for storage of bodies

The New Mexico Scientific Laboratories building which houses the Office of the Medical Investigator facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The director of the Office of the Medical Investigator said Wednesday, unequivocally, that the office does not charge storage fees for bodies.

“No, we don’t charge storage fees,” Dr. Heather Jarrell said. “I’m not sure where the miscommunication has come from, but there is nothing the family has to pay OMI to ever pick up a body.”

The issue was raised in a Dec. 30 story in the Journal in which the sisters of a woman who drowned during a flash flood in an arroyo in July were upset that they had not been notified of her death until mid-November.

The story included a line referencing the family’s Go Fund Me page, which stated OMI is “charging storage fees daily on the body and it will cost over $3,500 just to claim her body and then funeral costs.” The Journal subsequently published an editorial taking OMI to task for the delay in notifying the family and for charging fees.

But Jarrell said Wednesday the fee part is not true.

“OMI does not charge storage fees, I’m not sure where that came from,” she said. “We have a fee schedule. … It was never designed with the intent to charge families for storage so there has never been a time – to my knowledge – where we charge for storage.”

The fee schedule does reference a body storage fee of $61 per 24-hour period.

But Alex Sanchez, the spokeswoman for the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center, said that only applies to funeral homes.

“It was intended to be if you had a funeral home who was – for some reason – grievously late in picking up a decedent, they could use this as a way to get them to pick up the decedent,” Sanchez said.

Melissa Marcus, the sister of Paula Martin-Welsh, said the money the family is raising through Go Fund Me would go toward holding a funeral. She said if they don’t raise the money, they wouldn’t be able to hold a funeral for Martin-Welsh and she would instead have an indigent cremation through the county.

Martin-Welsh’s body is still at OMI. Jarrell said the facility does not charge anyone to pick up the body, but Sanchez clarified that state law mandates that there is a plan and permitting in place, either through a funeral home or another avenue before a body can be picked up.

It’s unclear exactly how the family came to believe they would have to pay a $3,500 storage fee.

Asked about it, Marcus referred the Journal to her grandfather, who said he’d heard it from another sister who, in turn, said she’d heard about it from an out-of-state uncle, who said he heard it from an aunt who lives in Oklahoma. The aunt said she was the first person contacted by OMI and that conversation did not include a discussion of fees.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Former lobbyist finds new calling in cannabis
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque man gives up $90,000 salary ... Albuquerque man gives up $90,000 salary for local budding industry
2
Are 4-day work weeks feasible? Business leaders weigh in
ABQnews Seeker
The concept and feasibility of four-day ... The concept and feasibility of four-day work weeks has been discussed in recent weeks, but it' ...
3
New Mexico front and center in nationwide debate over ...
ABQnews Seeker
Taken together, two forthcoming bills would ... Taken together, two forthcoming bills would create a suite of government-funded incentives to help companies construct everything from hydrogen production and hydrogen-based electric generation ...
4
IRS needs auditing power to close the ‘tax gap’
ABQnews Seeker
Courts have blocked Treasury from overseeing ... Courts have blocked Treasury from overseeing returns
5
Vintage meets sustainable at new Albuquerque boutique
ABQnews Seeker
Owner Vanessa Dagavarian said she started ... Owner Vanessa Dagavarian said she started thrifting vintage clothing as a teenager, but the idea to open her own vintage store didn't come to ...
6
At 470 killed, traffic deaths return to the bad ...
ABQnews Seeker
Pedestrian death tally reached 99, breaking ... Pedestrian death tally reached 99, breaking record set back in '94
7
Natural resource agencies request funding boosts
ABQnews Seeker
Climate change bureau would tackle emissions Climate change bureau would tackle emissions
8
Justice, sort of, is coming after deadly crash
ABQnews Seeker
Woman expected to accept plea agreement ... Woman expected to accept plea agreement over tragic incident
9
University of Va. holds largest collection of cartoonist's art
ABQnews Seeker
School's library gifted almost 7,000 pieces ... School's library gifted almost 7,000 pieces of artist's works