OAG: bodies not stacking up at the examiner’s office

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

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.”

 

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Jolene Toves
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.