LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A valley funeral home had a second chance to stay open, but the state funeral board just suspended its license for six months over the care officials say bodies received there.
“It’s always upsetting to see things like that. I think cases involving lack of dignity and respect of bodies are the worst cases,” said Jennifer Kandt, the executive director of the Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services.
Kandt said the decision to suspend the license comes after a surprise inspection by her last month at the business off Sunset Road near Boulder Highway. Kandt said she saw around 230 decedents at the funeral home and crematory. But it wasn’t the number of people that raised alarms. Kandt said it was how the people were being stored.
"They pay a lot of money for these funeral homes to keep their loved ones and treat them with dignity and respect and that's not what was happening," said Kandt.
She said prior to the surprise inspection, there was an agreement in place where officials with Hites would take care of the problems in exchange for the board staying a six-month license suspension.
But Kandt said she found problems still existed after the unannounced inspection. She said the funeral home director has been cooperative in the past.
“Provides documents to us timely, things like that. But it became clear that they do not know how to operate that business,” Kandt said.
Hites Funeral Home Director Eric Lee was present and talked during the funeral board’s hearing on Tuesday.
“In response to the allegations made against us, I’m not here to say those things didn’t happen. They are isolated incidents though," Lee told the board.
Lee also said key staff members were out sick for a while due to COVID-19 or other health issues and said he tried to hire more staff to improve things but it took longer than expected.
“We’re continuing to move forward trying to make this place a better facility,” Lee said.
Although Hites' license is now suspended, Kandt said the business can move forward with the wishes of families who have already paid for services, if those services can be completed in 30 days. She said Hites also has 30 days to transfer decedents to other funeral homes, if families do not have a contract.
She said anyone with questions about a loved one at Hites can contact the Nevada State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services at 775-825-5535.