GRAPHIC: Bodies stored in vacant rooms at Detroit hospital overwhelmed by coronavirus

DETROIT (CNN) - Michigan has seen more than 1,700 deaths from COVID-19, most of them in Detroit, where hospitals have been overwhelmed. Photos from one area hospital show bodies piled up and in refrigeration units and stored in vacant rooms, due to the large number of deaths.

An emergency room worker at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit shared photos with CNN that show bodies being stored in vacant hospital rooms and piled on top of each other inside refrigerated holding units brought into the hospital’s parking lot.

Two other ER workers, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity out of concern for their jobs, confirm the photos are an accurate portrayal of the hospital during one 12-hour shift in early April.

Emergency room workers at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit say at least one room, typically used for studies on sleeping habits, was used to store bodies because the morgue was full.
Emergency room workers at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit say at least one room, typically used for studies on sleeping habits, was used to store bodies because the morgue was full. (Source: Sinai-Grace Hospital worker/CNN)

At least one room, typically used for studies on sleeping habits, was used to store bodies because morgue staff did not work at night, and the morgue was full.

“All I know is we ran out of beds to keep our patients on, so we couldn’t spare any for the bodies,” said one ER worker, who witnessed the bodies in the room.

The hospital ordered portable refrigerator storage units to store the bodies in response to the incident, according to two ER workers.

A photo obtained from an ER worker shows body bags overlapping each other inside a refrigerated unit at the hospital. Two other ER workers confirm they have seen victims placed like this due to a large number of bodies.
A photo obtained from an ER worker shows body bags overlapping each other inside a refrigerated unit at the hospital. Two other ER workers confirm they have seen victims placed like this due to a large number of bodies. (Source: Sinai-Grace Hospital worker/CNN)

Another photo obtained from an ER worker shows body bags overlapping each other inside a refrigerated unit at the hospital. Two other ER workers confirm they have seen victims placed like this due to a large number of bodies.

"Bodies are definitely double stacked on the floor. There is no lift to help put the bodies on the shelf," said one ER worker who has witnessed similar scenes of bodies.

Six ER workers say the hospital was treating about 100 to 130 patients at a time during a period in early April when it was at its highest volume. Over the past several days, that number has dropped to about 50 patients.

“Patients who pass away at our hospital are treated with respect and dignity, remaining on-site until they can be appropriately released,” said hospital spokesperson Brian Taylor after a call for comment from CNN. “Like hospitals in New York and elsewhere, we have secured additional resources such as mobile refrigeration units to help temporarily manage the capacity issue caused by COVID-19.”

Taylor says the hospital was focused on bringing in additional nursing resources to help care for the increase in cases.

Michigan’s governor says the curve is beginning to flatten in parts of the state.

Copyright 2020 CNN, Sinai-Grace Hospital worker. All rights reserved.