TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Dozens of funeral chapels across the state are unable to process death certificates, and the issue is causing a backlog in cremations and burials.
Those who've lost a loved one are now stuck in limbo because of a glitch in the state's new death certificate system that debuted on Monday, Oct. 2.
The Arizona Department of Health Services said before you can bury or cremate a loved one you must have a permit, where the doctor signs off on the cause of death. With the new system, some doctors are not registered in the database and that's where part of the delays are coming from.
Health Services is working to resolve the problem, but in the meantime, morticians like Azhar Dabdoub, have had to put a stop to all funeral services and explain the hard news to already grieving families.
"I wish I could have done more for them. But instead of having a burial, we had to have the service without the burial and it was – well, the family understood the circumstances. It was bad timing of this week," said Dabdoub of Funeraria Azahares.
"Our highest priority is making sure those families, if they're requesting a burial or cremation, we want to meet that time frame so whether that's calling the funeral home, calling the medical certifier, getting them onboard or whether that's us having to d rop to a paper system to make that happen, we're committed," said Colby Bower, Assistant Director of Arizona Department of Health Services.
The state has added employees to help with this and will work through the weekend. Some funeral homes have temporarily gone to a paper-based system.
State officials hope to have all the kinks worked out in the next few weeks.