The continued vacancy at western Kentucky’s medical examiner office has increased transportation costs for coroners. The state has four medical examiner offices and the one in Madisonville has been vacant for close to a year. Chief Medical Examiner Tracey Corey says finding a board certified ME is difficult because of pay disparity. The state recently raised its salary range to up to $154,00 to attract more applicants.
Hopkins County Coroner Dennis Mayfield says it’s up to the counties to pay for the cost of transporting bodies to the medical examiner’s office for autopsies.
Western Kentucky coroners are now taking bodies to Louisville.
“I could take the body up there and leave it, but I don’t think I should have the family incur the cost of having the body brought back. So we have the body brought back also, and the total cost for us is somewhere around 800 dollars," he said.
Mayfield says he’s transported 3 bodies this month. He adds Hopkins County may have more cases than neighboring counties.
“We have the regional medical center," said Mayfield. "From our neighboring counties which do not have a hospital, they may bring an emergency case over here, and if they expire here in Hopkins County, then that becomes a Hopkins County case.”
There are four ME offices in Kentucky. According to the state M-E’s office, the western Kentucky office would see between 200 and 250 cases a year.