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LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO – In response to the COVID pandemic, increased cremation demands and longer wait times, Perches Funeral Homes has installed a third cremation retort at its La Paz-Graham’s Funeral Home.

Salvador Perches, owner of Perches Funeral Homes, said that the installation of the third cremation retort will allow crematory operators to more effectively manage the high volume of pending cremations thus making improvements in our current wait time and will help bring closure to the families we serve.
“Prior to the pandemic, we recognized the increased demand for cremation and made the decision to install an additional cremation retort. However, the order, permitting and installation took more than a year to complete.” Perches said.

One reason for delays in the cremation process is that a cremation retort can only conduct a minimal number of cremations per day. The average cremation process requires 3-5 hours per unit to complete. Another reason is that the pandemic has overwhelmed the funeral industry. News reports have been seen on a daily basis showing how the death care industry has had to adapt to the increase in the death rate.

“While many funeral homes have reduced the number of cremation requests they would accept, we have not. We are committed to operating our Crematory 24 Hours a Day 7 days. We will continue to give personal care and attention to each and every family we serve by offering affordable cremation prices, Perches said.

Dr. Alfonso Chavez, president of Amigo Kidney Foundation in El Paso, also saw an increase in deaths over the past year and is grateful for the help Perches has given the families of his patients over the years.

“Mr. Perches is always there for us. He has given discounts to our families for more than 10 years … making funeral services affordable in their time of need. Many of our patients are poor. Perches has never said “no” to any of the families we served and has provided dignified funerals and cremations at the lowest possible cost. I understand the stress that the COVID pandemic placed on our community and fortunately for us, we have people like Mr. Perches who puts people and community first,” Dr. Chavez said.

Angel Gomez, director of Operation H.O.P.E. of El Paso, agrees with Dr. Chavez. “I work with several funeral homes and they have never experienced anything like the past year. The general public has no idea of what our local funeral homes had to go through. The increased death count because of COVID was overwhelming. Cremations that normally would take a few weeks we’re taking as long as four months. Families could not have traditional funeral services with gatherings for their loved ones. Perches, who has helped our organization for as long as I can remember and who is always the first to respond when tragedy strikes, was not turning anyone away and was discounting cremations for members in our community because of financial hardship caused by COVID. Because of their heroic actions and capabilities, more persons were coming to them for help, which led to a backlog in the cremation process,” Gomez said.

The funeral industry personnel are the unsung heroes amidst this pandemic. Funeral directors and staff members were exposed to COVID on an everyday basis while trying to serve families in their time of need. Crematory personnel were extremely vulnerable but were rarely recognized for their bravery during this pandemic, as compared to the first responders. “We lost family members, business associates, and close friends because of COVID. And it is because of these losses that we are doing everything in our power to expedite the cremation process and provide families the ability to go through their own personal grieving process and to remember their loved one in their own special way,” Perches said


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