Chief Medical Examiner Discusses Efforts to Change Agency
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Board of Medicolegal Investigations met Tuesday to discuss the recent loss of the agency's accredidation and a recent grand jury report that rebuked the office.
Dr. Collie Trant, the agency's newly appointed Chief Medical Examiner, started the meeting by saying a report the ME's office received following its loss of accreditation by the National Association of Medical Examiners is "very helpful." Dr. Trant told the board there's not arguing with the results and the goal is now to find the resources to fix the deficiencies.
"Thankfully, we're beginning to receive more support from legislators and momentum is beginning to build, especially after what happened yesterday," said Dr. Trant who was referring to a scathing report released by a Multicounty Grand Jury that criticized the agency on a number of levels.
The report said employees of the office have been psychologically, emotionally and sexually victimized and most of that could be traced back to the former chief medical investigator.
The board was informed that the office is improving relations with local police departments, increasing and improving its sexual harassment training and policies, and one member said the agency needs to be more "bold" when it comes to asking for more funding from lawmakers.
"We have three priorities on our emergency crisis list," said Dr. Trant who told the board the number one priority on the list was to seek more training for his investigators.
The other two were adding more staff and space for the agency and to increase the toxicology report turnaround time.
Dr. Trant said more money is needed to hire physicians, assistants and for more space. The Board of Medicolegal Investigations said employees are doing twice what they should be doing.
The office has about $7.3 million to operate this fiscal year, less than last year because of budget cuts.
At least two lawmakers have paid a personal visit to the Medical Examiner's Office within the past few weeks to get a first-hand look at the conditions there.
"They were appalled at what they saw," said the Medical Examiner's spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard.
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