• Volusia County says finding permanent replacement for medical examiner's office won't be easy

    By: Jason Kelly , Michael Springer


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Who will become Volusia County's next chief medical examiner? That is the question the county will have to tackle in the coming months.

    It comes after the former chief medical examiner resigned and wrote a scathing letter to the state Medical Examiners Commission detailing problems that have hampered the facility for years, such as a crumbling building, staffing issues and an overcrowded morgue.

    Dr. Jon Thogmartin, the interim medical examiner, said that in 10 days, he fixed issues, including a crowded cooler and a backlog of more than 200 cases.

    Read: Volusia County's interim medical examiner says morgue is no longer overcrowded

    The county admits that finding the next person to run the facility will be not be an easy task.

    "That specifically is a little concerning to me that things that were allowed to go on for decades are such an easy fix," Volusia County Council member Heather Post said. "I'm confident moving forward, but again we need to just make sure we are keeping that momentum going and we are holding people accountable."

    On Friday, Thogmartin said he discussed with the state Medical Examiners Commission about how keeping the office seven days per week and doing a better delegation of staff responsibilities fixed almost all of the office's issues.

    Volusia County Council member Billie Wheeler said she will follow up with Thogmartin in the coming months.

    "I think every couple of months we need to hear another report," she said.

    Read: Orange County medical examiner's office to use CT scans

    Thogmartin, whose contract ends at the end of the year, said there are only 450 working forensic pathologists in the country, fewer than 100 of whom are qualified to run the office well.

    "People all over the state have those positions filled, so it's not impossible," Post said.

    It is possible the county could offer Thogmartin the job, but so far, he has not expressed interest in becoming the permanent replacement.

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