Florida medical examiner overwhelmed with overdose victims requests more funds

Medical examiner: 'We have no space'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The medical examiner, who for months has been overwhelmed with bodies of people who have overdosed on opioid, made her case Friday for additional funds as the City Council committee is reviewing the $1.2 billion budget proposal for next year.

"We have no space. On a Monday especially," Chief Medical Examiner Valarie Rao said. "Sometimes we have to call in to get the bodies out."

On average, four of every seven bodies that arrive at the morgue are people who have died of a drug overdose.

Rao said the city has been helpful in this crisis and commends them for what her office has been doing, but added that in order to do a thorough job with autopsies, they need a new building with new equipment and more full-time staff.

But during budget hearings, she and others were told that it could be five years before a new, $15 million facility could be built.

The city is looking at having surrounding counties that use the medical examiner pitch in on the cost, and hopefully, get help from the federal government.

"This is not a blip on the screen. This is a regular occurrence. Every single day." Rao said.

This article is courtesy of WJXT.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.