GARY, Ind. (CBS) — A Northwest Indiana funeral home is waiting on 20 death certificates, but they can’t get them signed because of problems with the state’s brand-new birth and death records system.

The issues are causing backlogs for funeral homes across the state – and one grieving family told CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas it’s causing a financial mess.

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Andy Durant needs strength, now more than ever. He said his dad, Doug – a steelworker from Gary – died on Dec. 28.

“He’s the greatest man I’ve ever known,” Durant said.

Bu despite Durant’s best efforts, he hasn’t been able to get a death certificate – which is needed to sort out his father’s life insurance policy.

“Trying to save my father’s house; trying to do that; vehicles, small bills that he may have had,” Durant said.

And the family owes thousands of dollars to the funeral home that cremated Doug Durant. They’re also the ones tasked with securing the death certificate – but funeral homes across Indiana are backlogged and blaming the state’s online birth and death records system launched Jan. 4.

Andy Durant said the explanation the funeral home gave him was “that they’re changing the process of the new system, there’s a lot of glitches that they’re trying to fix.”

The funeral home in question is the Burns Funeral home in Hobart, where the secretary said they’ve only been able to get one death certificate signed since the new system launched.
In other words, they’re still waiting on about 20.

The head of Indiana Funeral Directors Association emailed us this week detailing similar problems for his members, and describing the new system as “temperamental, quirky, and not consistent in user experience.”

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The Indiana Department of Health, on the other hand, said, “We’re not aware of significant interface challenges,” and blamed the problems on doctors who need to sign off on death certificates but didn’t register for the new system.

“I lost my best friend,” Andy Durant said.

And whatever is to blame, he needs a solution.

“There should be somebody that can know what is going on and why it’s not functioning,” Andy Durant said.

Last week, Janet Tucker of Hammond told us she couldn’t get a different funeral home to cremate her husband without a death certificate. She’s now learned he might be cremated this week – but still no death certificate.

“My husband died and I want – I wanted closure for that,” Tucker said. “I always wanted to move forward into the things that have to be done.”

She’s trying to stay strong, and so is Andy. But it’s not easy.

The State of Indiana also said they are approving accounts faster for the new system and providing additional training and guidance to speed things up.

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The Indiana Funeral Directors Association said they applaud the state’s quote “tenacious efforts,” but they say progress is “inconsistent and erratic.”

Tim McNicholas