Skagit County received $135,000 in state funding to build its own morgue, and construction could start this summer.
County Coroner Hayley Thompson said this was the last piece of funding required for the project. With access to their own morgue, she said she and her staff will be able to work more efficiently and securely.
The new facility will be located in the existing coroner’s office, and construction will take two to three months, she said.
Since 2010, the county has paid $12,000 a year to use morgue space at Skagit Valley Hospital.
Coroner’s Office staff share the hospital space with hospital employees, meaning it is difficult to maintain the chain of custody in suspicious cases. Equipment and supplies often go missing and have to be replaced, further eating into the Coroner’s Office budget, Thompson said.
The new facility will have space for 14 bodies, as well as isolated storage for two more in case a body needs to be quarantined, she said.
While the hospital morgue space has no viewing area, the new space will have a window to allow loved ones and law enforcement to view a body.
The $135,000 allocation was included in the state capital budget, as approved this month by the Legislature.
Thompson thanked state Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, and Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, for their advocacy in the Legislature, and the Skagit County commissioners for their support locally.
“Words can’t express how thankful I am to all our supporters,” she said.