Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $125,501)
The decision to pursue accreditation for a medicolegal death investigation system by the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) stems from a desire by the leadership to demonstrate confidence that the Medical Examiner's Office is committed to providing a system worthy of the public’s trust. Pursuing NAME accreditation requires dedicated staff and faculty with the time and resources to meet these standards. Like most other Medical Examiner’s Offices (MEOs) across the country, the MEO located within the Department of Pathology at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) is challenged with staffing shortages and significantly increased numbers of deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving 13 counties as the Medical Examiner in Michigan and providing several other counties with consultant forensic pathology services, this surge of deaths has placed a greater burden on autopsy and administrative staff than ever before. In 2021, over 1,500 postmortem examinations were performed. This project proposes the hiring of a part-time Project Coordinator (PC) dedicated to ensuring that the MEO is meeting and/or surpassing standards set forth by NAME. The MEO at WMed has been NAME-accredited since 2016. This status assists in hiring processes, especially that of highly qualified forensic pathologists, which are severely lacking across the U.S. This accreditation also provides assurance to the communities served by the MEO regarding the performance of high quality examinations and the office’s commitment to supporting public health initiatives. The PC will work alongside the Quality and Research Manager to perform quarterly inspections that will inform the team of forensic pathologists, autopsy staff, laboratory directors and technicians, scene investigators and administrative staff. The PC will assist with the review and revision of all policies and procedures required by NAME and will aid in the gathering of complete data via the web-based case management system for annual statistical compilation, analysis and dissemination. The PC will be responsible for the input of all NAME accreditation-related materials to the web-based Inspection and Accreditation program annually and will play a large role in the next scheduled site visit currently set for January of 2024. This individual’s focus on NAME requirements will play a vital role in continued accreditation of the MEO at WMed.