While the lack of a permanent medical examiner for Guam has presented several challenges, the Office of the Attorney General assured bodies are not stacking up at the medical examiner’s office.
Carlina Charfauros, the spokeswoman for the AG’s office, said: “No. There has been a clinical pathologist who has been conducting autopsies on a regular basis.”
However, the Saipan-based pathologist on contract with the medical examiner’s office only performs non-forensic autopsies. This means that autopsy procedures on bodies where authorities suspect foul play must wait.
In January, the Commission on Post Mortem Examinations proposed a new daily body storage fee of $38.50 after the first day, Charfauros said, “families are not paying anything right now.”
As a temporary solution, the Commission on Post Mortem Examinations has secured a contract with two pathologists – Dr. Martin Ishikawa and Dr. Rachel Lange from Hawaii Pacific Health.
The government agreed to pay $70,000 for the two interim medical examiners who will be flown into Guam on an on-call basis. While the contract amount may look like a lot of money, this translates to the cost of roughly 8 autopsies.
The forensic pathologists will be paid $5,000 dollars for each autopsy conducted, roughly $3,700 to $3,950 per diem for travel and lodging expenses. This does not take into account the $300 per hour charge for testimony and case review or the additional charges which may be incurred for approved medical supplies.
Charfauros said, “On the allotment provided to the office of the medical examiners, any additional funding needed will be on the agenda for the next post mortem commission.”