Spokane County broke ground on the construction of an $11 million new medical examiner facility on Monday, with county officials promising a new state-of-the-art complex at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The new 24,000-square-foot facility — which is slated to be operational in June 2020 — will be located just off of East Sprague in the University District. Some of its features include autopsy labs, temperature-controlled storage systems, classroom space and a Lodox X-ray body scanner, according to the Spokesman-Review.
Currently, the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office operates out of the basement of Holy Family Hospital, with a staff of 11. The office conducts autopsies for not only Spokane County but also numerous other Eastern Washington counties and North Idaho. And demand for medical examiner services has only increased, Spokane County Commissioner Al French tells the Inlander.
The county purchased the building for the new facility back in 2017 for $1.9 million, French says. Funding for the planned renovations comes from a $1.2 million state grant and local revenue from the real estate excise tax.
"From our standpoint, it's a win all around," French says. "And we were able to build it without increasing taxes for the taxpayer.
"We've been working to try to find a [new] facility ever since I joined the board eight and a half years ago," he adds.
Additionally, given the facility's close proximity to local colleges and their medical education programs and on-site classrooms, officials hope that the new complex will serve as a way to guide interested students towards forensic pathology.
"This provides us the opportunity to not only meet the needs of the community but also get an enhanced synergistic relationship with the medical schools," French says. "We're excited because having the exposure to students who are in medical schools means that they might be able to pursue a career in forensic medicine."