YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County’s coroner has hired extra help to oversee the office in his absence.
Dr. David Kennedy is a part-time coroner, so he isn’t always there.
“There’s a lot of times when I’m not available, whether I’m out of town or doing my private practice or something,” he said.
He’s hoping that the hiring of fellow internist Micheal Devine will help fill in those holes.
The office has been short-staffed ever since Deputy Coroner Dr. Joseph Ohr passed away roughly two months ago from pancreatic cancer. Dr. Kennedy is still searching for Ohr’s replacement.
Kennedy, an internist, doesn’t perform the autopsies. As a pathologist, Ohr was responsible for those job duties.
Now, the county has to send its autopsy cases to Cleveland until the pathologist position is filled. Kennedy said he hasn’t had any applicants yet for the position.
This has caused a lag in processing some of the paperwork. The autopsies that are sent to Cuyahoga County cost $1,500 per case, including the cost of transportation.
Kennedy said his staff has been cutting back on the numbers of autopsies requested, including those from opioid overdoses.
“In fact, Cuyahoga County has asked us not to send suspected toxicology overdoses, just because they’re so inundated,” he said.
Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham said he has been talking informally with his counterparts in the region to see if there’s a way to share pathology services with other counties.
“There are synergies that may, maybe, make it a win-win for everyone, and that’s what we’re after,” he said.
Kennedy said he thinks it’s a great idea.
“If it ever came to fruition, if you can get these different counties to work out a cost-sharing mechanism that’s fair to everyone,” he said.
He said the idea isn’t new; it just hasn’t made it past the talking stage. Meacham looks at it as a needed first step.
“How’re we gonna move to the next step, and what’s one way of doing it? Having the financial people, the county auditors, talking about it, ’cause we’re really the ones watching the money,” he said.
With shrinking populations, tightening budgets and a worsening opioid epidemic, Meacham believes that counties will be forced to look at regionalizing.