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True story: Refrigeration trucks being used by ME's office

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: May 18, 2012

Maybe now that the state medical examiner's office has been forced to use refrigeration trucks to store bodies — think about that for a minute — members of the Legislature will get around to taking the action needed to build a new office. If this doesn't do it, then likely nothing will.

Nothing better illustrates the sad shape of the ME's office than the need to use these trucks. They were provided Wednesday by the Department of Health, which has them on hand in case of mass disaster, after the cooler used by the medical examiner broke down. The cooler is 42 years old. The surprise is that this didn't happen sooner.

Subpar working conditions at the ME's office resulted in it being stripped of its national accreditation in 2009, a truly embarrassing event that prompted legislators the following year to approve moving the office to a site in Edmond. They didn't provide the $42 million to make that happen, though. Conservative opposition to using a bond issue to pay for it (or most any other infrastructure need) prompted officials at the University of Central Oklahoma to this year propose selling bonds through a program higher education regents use for such things as classroom and dormitory construction.

That's been opposed by lawmakers who worry about the potential for other non-higher ed items being funded the same way. The attorney general, acting on a member's request, is studying the legality of the plan.

A spokesman for the ME's office says it is “hoping to find a part” to fix the Nixon-era cooler. Others in the community quickly came to the aid of the ME's office — a mortuary service offered the use of its coolers if needed, and funeral homes said they would assist with transfer services. When will the Legislature finally do its part?

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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