7000 bodies could be buried under MS medical center

7000 bodies could be buried under MS medical center

7000 bodies could be buried under MS medical center

The bodies are former patients and stretch across 20 acres (81,000 sq meters) of land under the university campus which is earmarked for future construction. Current estimates now place the total number of coffins buried beneath the campus at approximately 7,000.

The newspaper reported that it could cost $3,000 to exhume and rebury each body, an effort that could cost up to $21 million. By 2014, 1,000 more coffins were found when the school was constructing a parking garage. The school is also considering creating a memorial to preserve the remains and a lab used to study them. The university was clearing that section of the campus for a new development when the discovery was made.

The hospital officials, plus anthropologists, historians and other experts, have founded a group called the Asylum Hill Research Consortium to further investigate the forensic evidence of the burials - and to understand the history of the institution.

Instead, the center is considering handling the exhumations itself to cut costs, leaving a $400,000 bill per year for at least eight years.

7000 bodies could be buried under MS medical center
7000 bodies could be buried under MS medical center

"It would be a unique resource for Mississippi", Molly Zuckerman, an associate professor at Mississippi State, told the Clarion-Ledger.

According to the report, Dr Ralph Didlake, who oversees UMMC's Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, believes the lab would be the first of its kind in the nation - giving researchers insight into life in the asylum in the 1800s and early 1900s. "We want to show them care and respectful management".

"It would make MS a national center on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalized", she said, according to the Clarion-Ledger. This would make it possible to identify living family members who may come forward. Of the 1,376 patients admitted between 1855 and 1877, more than one in five died. Following the end of the Civil War, the facility expanded to house approximately 300 patients.

The Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum was created to give patients a better quality of life; until that point, people suffering from mental illnesses could often be chained in jails and attics to keep them away from others.

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