Autopsies add up

Feb 13, 2014 By Steven R. Peck

The numbers in support of a regional pathology center in our county do too

The more Fremont County learns about the prospect of headquartering a regional autopsy center here, the more there is to like about the idea.

Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan updated the county commission on his investigation and planning on the matter last week, and the numbers add up.

It is an unfortunate reality of our community that dozens of autopsies are required each year. It is another unfortunate reality that those autopsies must be conducted hundreds of miles away at a center in Colorado.

McAuslan and others long have argued for the creation of an autopsy center here, along with the hiring of a forensic pathologist to run the operation.

While it always made common sense, it now appears to make financial sense as well. That's a good combination in its favor. The coroner showed figures to the commissioners demonstrating the cost savings of no longer having to travel to Colorado for autopsies, the cost benefits of serving as a regional hub for autopsies in Wyoming. He even noted previously unconsidered advantages such as having a forensic pathologist on hand for testimony in court cases.

Add to that the prospect of incorporating a forensic pathologist's expertise into a potential educational program in coordination with the Central Wyoming College's new Health and Science Center, and this proposal looks very attractive.

Commissioners now have asked for a draft budget on the idea, which is an indication of a positive frame of mind from members of the county's elected board. McAuslan is confident that the budget will "pencil out" favorably when weighed against the lost time, travel expense, autopsy fees and delays associated with the Colorado process, particularly when the prospect of being a magnet for neighboring counties is figured in.

When economic development opportunities are tossed around, performing more autopsies locally probably isn't one of the glamorous suggestions. But as a practical matter, there is every indication that it makes good sense for Fremont County.

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