Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 7, 2014

Medical examiner topics head to GT Commission

TRAVERSE CITY — Grand Traverse County officials will discuss a host of topics related to the county’s medical examiner during a commission committee meeting tonight.

Grand Traverse County Administrator Dave Benda and County Health Officer Wendy Trute will report to board members about insufficient space and unclaimed bodies at the Munson Medical Center-operated morgue, and possibly bringing a forensic pathologist to the Grand Traverse area.

Trute said officials might need to expand the morgue as the county’s population continues to rise. She also said a growing number of unclaimed bodies in the morgue corresponds to a nationwide trend in unclaimed bodies partially attributed to the economy and the increasing mobility of the country’s population.

"I think years and years ago, long before my time here, it was maybe one or two a year, and now it’s increased to maybe double-digit numbers, but I don’t have exact numbers,” Trute said Tuesday afternoon.

Local officials also will examine whether the Grand Traverse region can support a forensic pathologist. Officials from throughout northern Michigan rely on forensic pathologists in Grand Rapids for autopsies and similar services.

"It might come to nothing, but we’re looking at the intergovernmental cooperation piece of this, too,” Benda said. “We all have needs in northern Michigan and if we can do things to share costs and services, it could be great for everybody.”

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