Statewide delay to receive birth and death certificates

By Shanila Kabir

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — Many island residents are concerned over how long it takes to receive both a birth and death certificate for their loved ones.

A new mom, Jaimie Song said she contacted the Department of Health multiple times for her 13-week-old daughter’s birth certificate and received no response.

“I ordered the birth certificate online twice and still didn’t receive a response. It’s hard for new moms to show up to the DOH in person while we have many other things to do,” said Song.

Song is unable to obtain a passport for her daughter in the meantime.

A nurse from Maui Medical Group told KITV4 she ordered a birth certificate in 2019 and still has not received it.

Michelle Tucker, attorney at Sterling and Tucker LLP, said the creation of death certificates is not being delayed. She said, by law it has to be finalized quickly. Rather, families are not getting copies in a timely manner.

“When clients are at the funeral homes, they ask the families for a copy of the death certificate which is very disheartening for the families that they can’t move on in the burial process more quickly,” said Michelle Tucker.

Sterling and Tucker law firm has at least 100 active cases with clients waiting for their loved one’s death certificates and an average of five clients come in weekly with this very issue.

Tucker said the only way for a widow to receive survivor benefits is to have a copy of the form.

She averages a six to eight week wait.

“Probating an estate can take a couple of years which is very frustrating and then now, all of your assets are frozen until the death certificate is available,” said Tucker.

Department of Health officials said this is ultimately because 31% of jobs in the DOH Vital Records Office are vacant which is the major factor contributing to these longer wait times.

In the meantime, the department is taking on part-time employees while they continue to look for full time workers.

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