Concerns raised about Arizona Funeral Board going away, ADHS could take over

It's unclear right now how families will file complaints in the future - or who will investigate problems as they pop up.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Losing a loved one isn’t easy, but it can get worse when a funeral home makes a careless mistake. A few weeks ago, Jason Stone told Arizona’s Family how his mother was accidentally cremated. “It kind of sends chills just to talk about it,” said Stone. “When he said those words, we regret to inform you that your mom was cremated.”

For years, complaints about funeral home and crematoriums have been made with the Arizona Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, but that’s about to change. The state legislature voted to do away with the board last session, setting March 31, 2023, as the day the agency would no longer have oversight authority.

Supporters said the board was not running well or serving the public’s best interest. State Representative Cesar Aguilar (D- Phoenix) has fought to keep the board up and running for another two years. He does not support a Republican bill, SB1210, that would shift the funeral board’s duties to the Arizona Department of Health Services. “They’re literally creating the same thing, just under DHS,” said Aguilar. “Making government recreate the wheel when its already doing what its supposed to be doing is not necessary.”

It’s unclear right how families would file complaints in the future with ADHS or who will investigate problems as they pop up. Questions have also been raised about licensing requirements for embalmers and other staff.

Some funeral directors told Arizona’s Family there must be standards to protect the public. Sandy Greeley is the owner of Angels Mortuary in Mesa. She doesn’t think doing away with the funeral board is a bad idea, especially since the board will be allowed to continue operating for the next six months. " Am I going to say everything is going to be perfect, no,” said Greeley. “It’s a learning curve. Will families still be cared for? Yes. Do I think things will still go wrong? Yes I do. Do I think it will be better for everyone all around? Yes I do.”