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How to Embalm with Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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Protect the Families you Serve by Protecting Yourself. 

Everyone’s talking about the Coronavirus. This is a big deal. Our families are relying on us for guidance and reassurance. We need to protect not only ourselves, but the public that we serve. I’m here to show you how. I’m going to show you how to better protect yourself each step of the way. Make sure that you’re equipped with the proper products and procedures to protect the people we serve, ourselves, and the public.

How do you protect yourself and those around you on a removal and you are making a transfer from the facility to the funeral home? 

First, It is important to make sure you’re fully covered yourself. This includes covering your face, your eyes, and your nose. You can do that easily by using the mask and the proper PPEs.

Start with Webril cotton or some sort of cloth and be able to saturate that with a disinfectant before transferring the remains. Cover the face, completely the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and protect yourself from any droplet transmission from the decedent to you.

 

How do you protect yourself and those around you at the funeral home?

 PPEs

So whether you’re on a first call or you’re involved in taking care of the body in the facility, it’s important that we treat every case if they’re infectious and better.

  1. Universal Precautions is suggested including nitrile gloves (doubled up), gown, boot covers, face shield, and mask.
  2. If you’re using a flat pleaded mask, locate the metal strip that will bend and place it over the bridge ear, nose, and then guide the elastic strips around your ears and then adjust the mask around over your mouth and down over the chin. 
  3. Next apply the shield to your face to protect your eyes from any droplet transmission to be able to remove and discard into a closed container. Important: Once you have the mask on, avoid touching the mask with your hands. Once you do that, you’ve now contaminated your hands because of the transfer of bacteria and virus.
  4. When you take off the mask, remove from the elastic loops and dispose into a closed container.

 

Disinfectant 

We’re going to discuss how to disinfect the face, the eyes, the nose, and the mouth to better protect the embalmer with a proper disinfectant. You need forceps and I recommend a syringe.

Important: Do not use a spray bottle when disinfecting the face because a spray bottle produces a stream that could splash back.

  1. Drop some disinfectant into a syringe and place that syringe right into the nostril. Empty the full syringe into each nostril. Do each one, the eyes, and then into the mouth. Let that sit for 10-15min
  2. Using Webril cotton and your forceps, apply some disinfectant and clean out each eye thoroughly. Discard and throw into a closed container.
  3.  For the nostrils, do the same. Make sure plenty of disinfectant is on the Webril and    continue cleaning out the nose and packing the nose straight down into the pharynx. Important: Avoid the webril coming out and discarding it. Pack it straight down. Do each side.
  4. Repeat the process with the mouth. Make sure you thoroughly clean the mouth with webril and your forceps. Important: Make sure that there’s plenty disinfectant on the cotton. When you do so, open the mouth and thoroughly disinfect the inside of the mouth and dispose of any of the cotton immediately into a closed container. 
  5. Now you are ready to close the mouth and begin the preparation.  Important: It is very important that you bathe the body. Before you do anything with soap, I recommend using any disinfectant soap. Soap does a much more thorough job at disinfecting the body, than a disinfectant or alcohol. The lipids that break down into the, the virus to break it apart, and make it fall apart. Soap is a very effective way to protect yourself. Bathe the entire body down with soap.

 

How do you protect yourself and those around you during embalming?

Once you inject the body arterially, you have to remember one of the phases of embalming that’s aspiration. This involves piercing the lungs with the trocar and that’s exactly where the virus lives.

Aspiration. 

Important: It begins there and it ends there and that’s the area of the body that you want to protect ourselves against. Many have a hydro aspirator or some sort of forced aspiration and when you use the trocar, attach it to the hose, and insert it into the body, you are going to enter into the lungs. Be very careful.

  1. Before aspiration, before you introduce the trocar to the body, take a bottle of disinfectant and insert it, using the trocar and a gravity tube. The gravity injector can easily be attached to a bottle and then the hose can then be attached to the trocar.
  2. Inject the trocar, or insert the troll cart into the abdomen and into the lungs. Important: Do this before aspiration. We want to disinfect as much as we can inside the lungs where  the virus lives to each lung.         
  3. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before aspiration. Once you’re prepared to aspirate the body, make certain that the aspirator is a closed system. Closed system aspirator will reduce the chances of any    getting into the air. Important: As you know, when you aspirate the body, it’s a high force of pressure of water and that force and pressure water that’s drawing the bacteria and the viruses out of the body.This goes right into the aspirator hose in the water and that could splash. So protect that area of the aspirator. If you have a hydro aspirator, make sure you have a tube that goes down into the water of the toilet or the slop sink or a direct access into the sewer.
  4. It’s important that you cover the aspirator. Don’t allow any particulate to come out. If you have a direct vent aspirator that goes directly into the countertop with some sort of protectant, like Webril cotton soaked with disinfectant spray while you’re aspirating, only have one person in the prep room while you’re aspirating. 
  5.  Inject disinfectant into the throat area as well. Important :Once you get done aspirating, make sure you thoroughly disinfect your instruments and you should disinfect all of your instruments,  with a glutaraldehyde based product A very strong disinfectant to protect yourself from any future transference of bacteria or viruses.

 

It’s important to know that each time we move the body, that particulates could come out of the mouth or the nose. When we move the body, the diaphragm will move and adjust forcing pressure onto the lungs and the expulsion of particulates. Be mindful every single time you move a body, placing a cover over the mouth of the nose and then moving the body. It’s very important also to have one person in the prepper, unless two people are absolutely necessary to roll the body and clean underneath the body. Each person should always have protection over their face.

 

What is the next step to prevent further transmission?

Nose and Pharynx 

Next is packing the nose and sealing off the Fairfax in the throat from any further transmission of particulate using incision powder, aron alpha and Webril cotton. 

  1. Tear a strip of Webril cotton. Using incision powder, create a bead of powder the length of the cotton. Fold the cotton in half lengthwise. Then roll along the same length until the roll meets the other side keeping the cotton long. 
  2. Use your forceps to guide the cotton into the nose all the way down into the pharynx. You will be surprised how much cotton you can fit into the nose. Pack each side, each nostril thoroughly and completely do the same thing to the throat.
  3.  After you have packed the nostrils and throat, use aron alpha or instant adhesive, crazy glue, super glue, or something similar. Lift the tip of the nose and inject or squeeze some aron alpha into the nose. It will interact with the incision powder and it will create a cement. It will also react with the cotton while sealing off the pharynx in the nose and then disallowing any particulate to come out of the nose. 
  4. Do the same thing with the throat if you can do so with everything that’s going on today with the viruses, be certain to glue the eyes and glue the lips. You want to protect yourselves and protect the clients that we serve. Once that’s dried, it’ll create a barrier not only to protect you as the embalmer, your staff, but also the community. 

 

Questions and Answers From our Community

Now we’ve covered many of the additional tips that are recommended to use for the embalmer. We’re going to answer some of the questions that we received on social media. 

How similar is the flu and is it, is there evidence that it’s not a big deal?

It is a big deal. And we treat every case as if it’s infected with a virus to protect us and the public we serve. 

How do we protect the community and how do we handle visitation and the amount of people that come? 

Each state is governed a little differently. We have to follow the regulations that the government puts forth at a state and federal level. If you do not, then you are putting the families, communities and yourself at risk. 

My staff is fearful of coming in because they’re afraid of becoming infected. I would say… Follow the protocol. We know what the protocol is. And if we follow that protocol to the letter, we will be protected.  The information that we’ve been given is that you wear the masks, you wear the gloves, you do the things that are set in place, follow the protocol, and you’ll be protected and provide a service to the families that exceeds their expectations. 

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Embalmers and Funeral Directors

COVID-19