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Family frustrated having to wait on Orangeburg death certificate

The son of Curl Milligan says his death certificate was signed on January 25-- 24 days after Milligan's passing.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — A man called on News19 for help getting answers after waiting nearly one month for his father's death certificate to be signed at an Orangeburg hospital.

Carl Smalls' father Curl Milligan passed away on Jan. 1 at the age of 80. 

Smalls said seeking closure over the past several weeks was made especially difficult as he waited for a physician at the Regional Medical Center to sign off on Milligan's death certificate.

Milligan was under the hospital's care at the time of his death. Smalls said the certificate was signed on Jan. 25 - 24 days after Milligan's passing.

Smalls resides in Pennsylvania and said he's made numerous attempts to contact the hospital for answers.

“I was actually mad, I kinda wanted to drive back to South Carolina, go to the hospital myself and see what kind of disturbance I could create to get them to sign it, but that probably would have been problematic being that I was going through what I was going through," said Smalls.

During that time, Mulligan's body was being held at the Simmons Funeral Home in Orangeburg where Paul Simmons is the director.

“We have made numerous contacts to our local hospital, medical records, the supervisor at the hospital, in order to get this certificate done because Mr. Milligan is a cremation and we cannot complete that process until the death certificate is signed," said Simmons.

He said he was informed by the hospital the certificate was reassigned to several different physicians before it was ultimately signed on Jan. 25.

“There are a number of things that are associated with having to have a death certificate and in this particular case I can’t sit back and allow the certificate not to be signed. I’m pushing it every day to make sure we get it because we wanna get paid. We take assignments or funeral expenses," said Simmons.

News19 reached out to the Regional Medical Center to ask about Smalls' concerns. The hospital did not provide a reason for why it took that length of time. 

A representative for the hospital said they're now reviewing their processes to make sure this does not happen to another patient.

“We just wanted to let you know that we offered our condolences to them as well as our sincere apologies that the recent experience did not meet our usual standards of care," said Tonya Pratt, the senior director of quality and medical staff. "Please note that we take all complaints very seriously and investigate them thoroughly and we’re always looking to improve our processes."

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