Guam – After serving the island for over two decades Chief Medical Examiner Doctor Aurelio Espinola is retiring and today marked his last day, but it appears that he may need to stay on a little bit longer on an “on-call basis” until his replacement can be secured. A process that has proven to be easier said than done.
“There has been active recruitment nationwide for the last 2 years with less than a handful of applicants in that same time frame. Of two applicants, one of appears to be eligible based on the requirements under Guam Law for the ME position. Nationally, there are less than 750 forensic pathologist,” shared Attorney General’s office Spokeswoman Caroline Charfauros.
But getting that applicant out to Guam is another feat which is directly impacted by Espinola’s departure from the government. In a letter to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero received on Monday, Attorney General Leevin Camacho states, Dr. Espinola’ retirement will directly impact the FY 2019 Budget of the Office of Post-Mortem Examinations. he continues, although the FY 2019 Budget is sufficient to cover Dr. Espinola’s payout, it will create serious challenges in all areas of personnel and will significantly hamper the recruitment of a new CME.
The pay out $215-thousand. As a result, the AG is requesting a supplemental appropriation for $220-thousand, which will cover Espinola’s leave pay out, five-thousand dollars will go to travel expenses to facilitate recruiting a new CME.
With Espinola heading out the door and no funding available after May for the current ME staff, Camacho is proposing that legislation be adopted to push for a more improved financial autonomy at the ME’s office. This entails collecting fees and charging for services such as body storage and morgue verification. Camacho say this has the potential to bring in between 80-thousand to 100-thousand in annual revenue specifically for the Chief Medical Examiner’s office.
A breakdown of the fee schedule would mean that surviving loved ones would pay $38.50 per day after the first 24 hours for Body Storage notification the accrued cost would need to be paid in full before the release of the remains to family, Morgue processing of a body would cost $45 and transporting a human body would be a flat rate of $175.00.
And while the search continues, Espinola has previously stated to PNC that he intends to relocate to the Philippines following his retirement.