Jefferson County Coroner's Office could lose morgue
The state medical examiner's office and county coroner's office will move and again share the same building. However, this time, they're no longer allowed to share a morgue.
LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Coroner's office could soon be without a morgue in a battle between county and state.
For about 20 years, the Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office and the Jefferson County Coroner's office have been together in the same building, located inside the Urban County Government Center. On Monday, the state medical examiner's office moved to a bigger facility located at 10510 LaGrange Road, the former Central State Hospital. The county coroner's office will also move there in the next few months.
"So, we were looking forward to having the larger morgue for that because we're always fighting the problem of this one here being full," said Eddie Robinson, Jefferson County Deputy Coroner. "So it was kind of a shock, not only to us, but to the medical examiner this was going to happen."
About a week ago, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet notified the medical examiner that the state and county couldn't share a morgue anymore.
However, according to Robinson, the medical examiner and the justice department's former administration verbally agreed to sharing the morgue several years ago, with the state using the county's facility for $1 per year. Robinson said it comes down to money.
While Mike Wynn, spokesperson with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, didn't elaborate on the reason behind the change, he released the following statement:
"If the coroner had a verbal agreement with the prior administration, we were not alerted to it until last week. Once we learned of her concerns, we immediately reached out to her, and we are still committed to good-faith discussions about our relationship in the new facility."
"If we knew we weren't going to be able to use their morgue a couple years ago, when plans for them to move were started, then we could have actually had some sort of plans to build our own morgue and our own location...although we'd really like to be with the medical examiner," Robinson said.
The coroner's office still has access to the morgue until the move. However, because the offices are now in separate buildings and the medical examiner owns the gurneys, the coroner's office no longer has enough. A mortuary in Indiana and EMS have donated cots until the coroner's office is approved to buy its own gurneys.
"Otherwise those bodies would have to be placed on the floor, and that's not proper. So we're going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen. Sometimes, that's out of our control," Robinson said.
Wynn said the cabinet is willing to have further discussions with the coroner's office and has reached out about a meeting.
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