WASHINGTON — When the National Funeral Director’s Association asked for volunteers to be deployed to assist with the COVID-19 crisis in the US, Mark Beatty, Funeral Director at Beatty & Peterseim Funeral and Monument Services in Washington, stepped in. In a joint effort between the National Funeral Director’s Association and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, D.C., Beatty said he and four others were chosen to be stationed there while others have been deployed to other areas of the United States.
“There was a massive plea from New York and I know many funeral directors went there,” he said.
Beatty said he was notified April 27 he would be deployed for two weeks but since being in DC has decided to extend his stay until June 6.
The four volunteers are assisting staff with the daily tasks within the medical examiners office, he said.
“We’re working strictly with the deceased all day and receiving funeral homes. Back home I would be interacting with the family and organizing services so it’s quite different,” he said.
According to data provided by the government of the District of Columbia, there were 7,551 positive individuals and 407 deceased. Due to the severity of the virus, Beatty said everyone involved in the embalming process is taking extra precautions.
Despite the long hours and being away from home, Beatty said he is grateful for the opportunity. Having been a funeral director for 20 years, he said he felt it was his duty to help serve others in any way he could during the pandemic.
“I’m in the position with my business there in Kalona and Washington and Wayland where I’m afforded the opportunity to do this because we have such a good staff back home in Iowa that can handle things,” he said. “To me, I’m kind of humble about what we do and our duty as funeral directors and I just feel like it’s a way we can give back to our profession and work with the deceased and honor them and respect them just like it was a loved one you lost.”