Gov’t contracts two off-island interim medical examiners

The government's chief medical examiner, Dr. Aurelio Espinola retired in January. (PNC file photo)

The Government of Guam will pay $70,000 for two interim medical examiners who will be flown in to Guam on an on-call basis.

Since the retirement of chief medical examiner, Dr. Aurelio Espinola in January, autopsies on bodies had been put on ice, especially if foul play is suspected.

The Commission on Post Mortem Examinations has secured a contract with Dr. Martin Ishikawa and Dr. Rachel Lange from Hawaii Pacific Health, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

The two Hawaii-based forensic pathologists have been contracted to perform autopsies for homicides or similar crimes. All other autopsies will continue to be performed by the pathologist already on contract with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

According to the website, Ishikawa is certified in forensics and anatomic and clinical pathology. He attended the University of Hawaii and completed his residency at the University of Michigan.

Lange is certified in anatomic and forensic pathology. She attended the University of Miami and completed her residency at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Now that a contract is secured, what does this mean and how much will it cost the government?

The contract stipulates that the pathologists will be flown out to Guam each time their services are needed. The contract also stipulates that the contractor will be paid $5,000 for each autopsy. In addition, they will be paid approximately $3,700 for travel, room, and other incidentals.

In addition, each time the medical examiner is called to testify and conduct a case review, the cost to the government starts at $300 per hour.

Attorney General Leevin Camacho says, “I am both relieved and grateful we have this in place. We want to make sure the families who have lost loved ones have closure and peace. A forensic pathologist will play an important role in making sure that they also receive justice.”

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Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.