DeLand, FL – The Volusia County Sheriff says that the County must focus on resolving critical issues with its morgue.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood spoke on WNDB’S Marc Bernier show after Chief Medical examiner Sara Zydowicz expressed her concern about “potentially dangerous conditions” at the morgue and announced her resignation after only about a month on the job. Find earlier reporting here.
In a letter to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, Zydowicz cites a morgue cooler that is over capacity, critical understaffing and a backlog of approximately 200 cases waiting to be proofread as issues that make staying in the office “untenable.” Read more here.
“Folks in need of that office should be treated with respect, and they should be treated with the best service possible,” says Chitwood. He adds that there is a lack of oversight when it comes to the office.
Chitwood claims that the County Council is not taking the issues with the morgue seriously enough. “This is about mismanagement, and it’s about human dignity,” says Chitwood. “and for any Council member to just ‘pooh-pooh’ this and to say everything is well and good- we are talking about human dignity.”
The County asked Jon Thogmartin, a medical examiner from Pinellas County, for a consultation last month regarding his finding of the situation at the Medical Examiner’s Office and the morgue.
In Thogmartin’s initial evaluation, he states, “In my opinion, an improvement of the internal procedures of the office will quickly resolve any issues of public concern, and the conditions at the office are not critical, dangerous, or harmful.” He calls the office “one of the most squared-away Medical Examiner’s offices” he has encountered.
Thogmartin is expected to give a presentation regarding his findings at a Volusia County Council meeting tomorrow. He has also been tapped to serve as an interim medical examiner for Volusia County on a temporary contract basis. You can see the County Council agenda and Thogmartin’s preliminary evaluation here.
Photo of Chitwood courtesy of his Facebook page.