Meet the new Mohave County Medical Examiner, the same as the old county medical examiner, but with a new name and an extra cost of some $400,000 per year.

As approved by the county Board of Supervisors, a new arrangement will keep Dr. Archiaus Mosley on board as the medical examiner’s forensic pathologist while awarding a contract to a Mohave Valley mortuary as the medical examiner.

Mosley has served as the medical examiner but didn’t want to keep the position, which requires running an office that includes investigators and other staff and copious record keeping.

No one else wanted the job either, save for Serenity Memorial Group. The county said its solicitations for medical examiner applicants included requests for interest and even direct request to 200 potential providers.

Serenity will take over the administrative side of the operation and will be paid $1.1 million per year, about $400,000 more than is currently paid to Mosley.

Handing this service to a mortuary raises questions of potential conflicts of interest, since there is a huge potential for referred business. The county’s procurement director said he doesn’t anticipate a problem.

A rise in cost may be unavoidable, if only because of a nationwide shortage of forensic pathologists, which must be licensed physicians. The medical examiner post is required by statute and is charged with investigating suspicious deaths, usually by autopsy.

Mohave County historically has contracted with a private entity as the medical examiner. Finding a pathologist who also wants to provide a building, staff and all the administration of a business likely reduces interest.

It seems easier to recruit a pathologist who wants to focus on his or her own area of expertise.

Plans for a $2.5 million county medical examiner’s office now appear in limbo with the awarding of the contract to Serenity.

Unless the county wants to make keeping the medical examiner position filled, it should act to take the office in house and hire a pathologist and staff. It will incur some starting costs but will avoid both the extreme difficulty of filling the post and the potential conflicts of interest from contracting with a facility such as a mortuary.

— Today’s News-Herald

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