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Niagara County to consider medical examiner

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Tue, Nov 1st 2016 03:20 pm

Committee empaneled to study structure of coroners office

By Christian W. Peck

Public Information Officer

Niagara County Public Information Office

County leaders will study whether to develop a medical examiner post in Niagara County and restructure the organization of the current office of coroner, the chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, Wm. Keith McNall, R-Lockport, announced.

The move comes in response to rising costs associated with autopsies - the resolution authorizing the formation of a study committee to address the issue noted Niagara County taxpayers are "charged approximately $1,700 per full autopsy case and $1,100 per partial examination." McNall said such costs need to be contained, if possible.

"This is a study committee, and they are tasked with examining the feasibility of creating a medical examiner's post or other modifications to the existing four coroners' offices and duties," the legislature chairman explained. "This is a critical function of government that most people don't think about very often, but, like all government responsibilities, we want to do it in as cost-effective a manner as possible."

McNall tapped Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, for the post. Syracuse has helmed other ad hoc committees that examined various cost-cutting efforts in fields as diverse as road maintenance and employee health benefits.

"When it comes to performing government functions, I don't feel good about just passing on a bill to the taxpayers without trying to determine if we can do it better and cheaper," said Syracuse, who is a chiropractor, after McNall tasked him with heading the committee. "As a legislator, I know that, from time to time, we need to examine any function of government for cost savings. But as a doctor, I can tell you that, when it touches on the medical field, that goes doubly so, because of how dynamic and fluid the requirements there can be."

Syracuse will be joined on the committee by Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson; Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls; Assistant County Attorney Brian D. Seaman; County Treasurer Kyle Andrews; Coroner Joseph Mantione; Sheriff James R. Voutour; and Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton.

The committee will determine the costs of a medical examiner's office, as well as other possible structural changes.

"Anything that can contain, control or even reduce the costs to county taxpayers while preserving the dignity of the departed and protecting our obligation to their families is worth considering," Syracuse said. "The public needs to know that, whatever recommendations this committee makes, will only preserve or enhance that level of service."

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