Funeral home health inspection policy in flux - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Funeral home health inspection policy in flux

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When a family enters the doors of a funeral home, they're vulnerable. Jack Locke got into the business to help.

"I think the biggest reward -- and I think most funeral directors will agree -- comes from the help that we're able to give people at the time they need it most," Locke said.

Locke has been the director of Locke Funeral Home in Waterloo for 40 years.

But apart from helping grieving families, funeral homes play another role – behind the scenes.

It's that role that's coming under fire this week.

According to the state auditor, the Health Department is falling short by not inspecting the spaces where bodies are prepared for burial.

Director of Public Health Mariannette Miller-Meeks said more inspections are unnecessary, since they're already covered by other agencies.

"There are already other rules and regulations, both city and county, as well as federal," Miller-Meeks said. "So they're already a heavily-regulated industry."

As a result of the complaint, the Public Health Department proposed a change in the code to fit evolving needs of the industry. The code would change from "the department shall inspect" to "the department may inspect."

"We currently still will do inspections if there are complaints," Miller-Meeks said. "So there's complaint-driven inspections as well as other inspections because of other regulations that apply."

For Locke, he said this proposed change in terms won't change how they operate their business.

"I can't imagine it will change operations for any funeral homes," he said. "The general sanitary conditions, cleanliness and basic facility required under Iowa code are standard for any funeral home."

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