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This Kansas City doctor is there for families who lose a loved one at the hospital

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Julie Denesha
/
KCUR 89.3
At the University of Kansas Health System, COVID deaths happen on a daily basis. Kansas has the 8th highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the nation.

As the decedent affairs coordinator for the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Ciara Wright works to comfort the bereaved.

Dr. Ciara Wright does a lot in her job, from performing autopsies that don't require a coroner to helping families find the services they need to just listening.

Before COVID-19, Wright says it was common to be managing 4 to 6 deaths per day. But now, things are different. "It's been extraordinarily busy," says Wright, noting that there can be 14 to 15 deaths from various causes daily.

Families will make requests of Wright like leaving a light on for the deceased or making sure they have a blanket. "We get all different types of requests," she says, "Some we can't honor, but most of them we can. We just do the best we possibly can."

Her approach to interacting with those who are grieving is to talk to them "just as I would want somebody to talk to me." As Wright puts it, "Every last one of these patients are my relatives and I treat them as such."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
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