Lyken Funeral home threatens legal action over termination of contract by GPF

Dawn Stuart

The Lyken Funeral Home has threatened to take legal actions against the Guyana Police Force (GPF) over what it claims to be a sudden termination of its contract with the parlour.

Owners Dawn Stuart and Gordon Lyken, during a press conference today, contended that they were made aware of the contract termination through media reports. In fact, the business owners claim that to date, they have not been officially notified that the contract was terminated.

However, they said indeed, the Police Force has stopped doing business with the company.

The Lyken Funeral Home has, for years, been assisting the Police Force with collecting, storing, and conducting postmortem examinations on bodies for the purposes of investigations.

Last month, Head of the GPF Communications Unit, Mark Ramotar confirmed that the Force will no longer solicit the services of the mortuary, over the fact that the company failed to be in compliance with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) as well as certain health protocols.

But Stuart says these claims are not true and argued that the company is being “targeted” by a member of the Central Board of Health.

She related that the firm was last month threatened to be closed down by the Ministry of Health for using just one freezer to store bodies. According to the businesswoman, they were given two months to construct another freezer to be able to continue operating.

Stuart said the freezer is almost completed but due to the pandemic, there are delays in the delivery of certain materials.

Moreover, the businesswoman said the company had also received a letter from a member of the Central Board of Health who outlined that the odour of the decomposed bodies is dangerous to the employees – a claim which Stuart has denied.

“We been doing this for almost a hundred years and none of our employees have gotten sick or died,” the woman contended.

“We’ve developed a canister system where we put the body in a canister and its sealed and we put it in the fridge. Several years ago, we started to put the body in a body bag so if the police call us or the GDF call us we send a body bag before, they place the body in the body bag, when we pick it up, we put the body in the canister, the body bag is zipped, the canister is closed, and its stored in the fridge until we ready to take it to the mortuary for postmortem and the rest of the bodies are stored on shelves that are above the canister so there is no cross contamination,” the woman explained.

She argued too that the development of a second fridge will not eliminate the odour of decomposed bodies.

Moreover, she posited that the company was recently inspected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which reportedly found that everything was ‘up to standards’.

In this regard, the businesswoman said the company is also contemplating legal actions against the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, the businesswoman said the GPF owes the company some $35M for services offered between 2019 and 2021.