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New Records System Is Holding Up Death Certificates For Grieving Families In Indiana

HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — People who are grieving the loss of loved ones can’t get death certificates for them due to a new state records system in Indiana.

As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, it is a reality for people across the state – including a Hammond widow who has been fighting for weeks.

“We were married 54 years – it would have been last Thursday,” said Janet Tucker.

Janet’s husband, Larry Tucker, was a loving father of three who battled Parkinson’s disease. He was a local clown – literally – and was known for his one-liners.

“They would say, ‘It was nice to see you again.’ He’d say, ‘Yeah, I’m glad you got to see me again,’” Janet Tucker said.

Larry Tucker’s wife said he died in his sleep at their Hammond, Indiana home on Christmas morning. She wants to hold a small memorial service.

“We had the urn picked out,” Janet Tucker said.

But in Indiana, a death certificate is required for cremation – and the funeral home with which she is working can’t get one.

“My husband died and I want – I wanted closure for that,” Janet Tucker said. “I always wanted to move forward into the things that have to be done.”

Funeral homes across Indiana are struggling to secure death certificates because of problems with the Indiana Department of Health’s new birth and death records system that launched this year.

We asked the state how many families are affected by the delays, and we have not gotten an answer. So we asked the Indiana Funeral Directors Association.

McNicholas asked Indiana Funeral Directors Association Executive Director Andy Clayton how widespread the problem of families waiting on death certificates was.

Clayton’s response was, “Oh my gosh.”

He said he has not received a number, but he is hearing dozens of complaints from his members every day.

“There’s things that have either gotten lost or they can’t find them in the new system, or they are locked and the providers can’t get in there and finish them,” Clayton said.

When we emailed the state Health Department, they ignored most of our questions and blamed the problems on users not registering prior to the new system’s launch.

They may be referring to the doctors that sign off on certificates. Clayton said most funeral directors from whom he is hearing did properly register, but the system is still difficult to use.

“We’ve got funeral homes that are taking screenshots of their user errors, submitting it to the health department, calling day after day after day and not getting replies from the help desk,” Clayton said.

“There’s still the grief,” said Janet Tucker.

Tucker said the problems are all stalling her paperwork for her husband’s pension, Social Security, and life insurance.

“All of that is in limbo because I can’t get a death certificate to complete to move the process forward,” she said.

And what’s hardest of all, she said, is, “We had a wonderful life together,” and Larry is not there to cheer her up.

The State of Indiana also said in its email that they have held training sessions for the new system since last summer. But Clayton said even his members who did the training are running into problems.

The funeral home with which the Tuckers are working also told us they are waiting on a handful of other death certificates.

Also From CBS Chicago:

Source: CBS Chicago | News Colony

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