Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $125,502)
The goal of the District 1 Medical Examiner’s Office (D1MEO) is to achieve National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) accreditation. The primary need to pursue and attain this goal is to have a centrally located stand-alone office within the District. This grant will fund a portion of the planning and design efforts for a new facility that would meet NAME accreditation standards.
The D1MEO serves the four most western counties in the Florida panhandle (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton), more than 800,000 persons and responds to scenes across a massive region covering almost 5,000 square miles. Annually, approximately 11,000 deaths occur in our jurisdiction, and of those, more than 95% are reported and/or reviewed by the D1MEO for scene investigation, case review, or cremation permit approval as required by state law. Over 4,000 of these deaths involve a formal review by the D1MEO, and of those approximately 2,000 deaths are determined to be the jurisdiction of the medical examiner and require further investigation. Historically, D1MEO has experienced an annual case increase of approximately 15%; however, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of change for MEO cases has dramatically increased to 20-25% annually.
Primary Activities and Deliverables
The D1MEO will use these grant funds to fund specific tasks in the planning and design phase of the project with focus on meeting NAME accreditation standards for a medical examiner’s facility. The office has begun the arduous process and analysis to program the new facility and this grant in conjunction with state funding will fund completion of schematic design and design development phases of the planning process. The four counties are contributing funds to complete the remainder of the planning and land acquisition phase of the project. Final construction documents will be complete within a year and shortly thereafter the D1MEO will begin the construction of the new medical examiner facility. The D1MEO has received support letters from all four sheriff’s offices as well as the State Attorney’s Office to build the facility in Santa Rosa County (a more central location within the district).