YORK COUNTY -- Overcrowding has been the ongoing issue, but soon, the York County coroner will have a morgue of her own.
"We have days, sometimes for days, a week or more at a time where we're on overflow," said coroner Pam Gay.
But the county is now a big step closer to getting one.
The York County Prison Board conducted a feasibility study to bring the coroner’s office and administrative space to a vacant area of York County Prison.
Phase one, a nearly $700,000 remodel on a part of the prison that used to be dormitories.
This will save the county money by not constructing a new building, according to Mark Walters, the county's public information officer.
"This is moving forward," he said. "It would not be moving forward if it was considered unaffordable or cost prohibitive. The cost for moving the office space is going to be affordable, understanding that a morgue is going to be more. They're still looking at that."
Currently, the coroner's office shares the morgue at WellSpan York Hospital. There's only enough room to hold eight adults and four children for a county of a population over 440,000.
"When they're going to the hospital morgue, we don't have a physical examine room where we can look at that decedent more closely and perhaps find more wounds or perhaps find something that will draw our attention to the fact that, maybe, they need an autopsy," Gay said.
Phase two, construction of the county morgue, includes the county morgue with room for proper examination, a viewing room for grieving loved ones, space to hold 25-30 decedents, and if there's ever a mass-casualty event, space and ability to stack.
"We can't do our jobs as well without our own physical space for a morgue," Gay added. "We can serve the community as well."
York County is also the only county in the mid-state without its own morgue. Having the morgue in the prison isn't uncommon, as neighboring counties, such as Adams, have it there.
If the contract is approved by county commissioners, the coroner could be moved into the prison by the first quarter of 2020.
Phase one of the contract is expected to come before the commissioners the first Wednesday in August.