New chief medical examiner, staff additions help speed up autopsies
HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Department of Public Safety finally has the staff and the tools needed to speed up death examinations. Leading the big changes is the appointment of a new chief medical examiner in the state.
Dr. Staci Turner made news in 2020 when she was named first full-time pathologist for South Mississippi. Now, just shy of two years later, she’s the state’s first female to take the chief’s role.
“I think she’s going to bring a lot of great things as we try to continue to make improvements to the ME’s office,” said MDPS Commissioner Sean Tindell.
Turner had been the interim chief medical officer since January. Tindell made her appointment permanent this week.
When Turner physically moved to the Crime Lab in Harrison County in mid-2020, the high-tech morgue was unused. Staffing was a problem. But not anymore, thanks to creative ideas and funding from the state legislature.
There are now two additional deputy medical examiners. They, along with Turner, each have two medical examiner investigators to assist.
In addition, a new director of the medical examiner’s office will handle day-to-day operations and allow Turner to supervise the medical staff from her Coast office.
The changes are startling.
“For the first time in a long time, there are no autopsies waiting to completed,” Tindell said.
And that affects a lot of people, including families.
“We want to make sure they get the closure they need, and then also, if there are any legal matters - whether it be a murder trial or insurances having to be dealt with – they’re getting the autopsy reports in a timely fashion,” Tindell said.
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