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Few applicants so far for county pathologist job

May 8, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Fremont County's plan to hire its own expert to perform autopsies is in a rough patch, as few candidates are applying for the job. The proposed salary is keeping more away.

"We had four candidates, but two of them have withdrawn because they feel $100,000 is not adequate," Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan said at a May 6 Fremont County Commission meeting. "We have only one viable candidate at this time."

McAuslan first proposed a plan to hire a forensic pathologist to perform autopsies for the county in November. It could save money and provide better service to the county.

Commissioners on April 9 approved advertising for the position with a $100,000 salary. They expected the post to also entail about $40,000 in benefits.

The financial aspect is now in question.

"If you offered another $150,000 you'd probably have many applicants, but I know that's not going to happen," McAuslan said.

He suggested adding $50,000 to the salary, bringing the total to $150,000.

Commissioners said they would consider increasing pay for the position.

A big unknown in the financial picture is how much revenue the expert could bring in to balance out the salary. Autopsies performed by private doctors in Loveland, Colo., now cost the county slightly more than $1,000 apiece, plus travel costs and employee wages for transportation.

McAuslan projects that performing the procedures locally would save the county about $97,000, according to a February report from the coroner. He also hopes other Wyoming counties would bring their autopsies to Fremont County's expert, and plans to charge them a $1,000 fee.

Four counties have said they would bring their business to Fremont County, totaling about $127,000 in income, according to the February report. At the May 7 meeting, the coroner said he thinks more would do so after the program gets started. How many would, however, is unclear.

McAuslan pointed out one candidate certified in forensic pathology and licensed to practice in Wyoming would take the $100,000 salary, but neither he nor any commissioner voiced interest so far in moving forward with just one applicant.

The application period for the position as it is remains open until May 10, and the commission would have to decide at another meeting whether to accept an applicant from that listing or change the salary and advertise again.