From the Chairman’s Desk

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From the Chairman’s Desk

By Jeanine Tellin

 

 

The month of April has been a busy month for the Supervisors. One of the articles on the agenda for the month was a meeting with Dr. Anthony Leo, who is the Fayette County medical examiner, and Mr. Chuck Geilenfeld, who is the owner of Geilenfeld Funeral Home.

 The Supervisors, medical examiner and funeral home director decided to meet to better understand the reasons behind the need for and the cost the County is incurring for autopsies.

The County currently has a budget of $70,000 to cover the cost related to autopsies.  As with many counties, we continue to see this cost increase. After meeting with Dr. Leo and Mr. Geilenfeld, we do have a better understanding of the law they must follow and what they are doing to help keep the expenses under control. 

The medical examiner duties are found in the Iowa Code 331.801. The only manners of death are natural, accident, suicide, homicide or undetermined. The cause of death is more specific, such as overdose, gunshot, stabbing, etc. The medical examiner has the legal jurisdiction to make the call as to the manner and cause of death in the county.

The State of Iowa does mandate that the medical examiner call for an autopsy for any unnatural death or any natural death that may look suspicious or occurs to a young person. The medical examiner is called to the scene of the death, no matter the time of day and before the body is removed, so as not to break the chain of evidence, in case there may be criminal activities. 

In the past, the body was transported to Ankeny to have the autopsy performed. That meant two trips, one to take the body to Ankeny and one to pick the body up. Now the autopsy can take place at the funeral home with the medical personnel coming here as opposed to transporting the body to Ankeny, saving the county the cost of transportation. However, having said that, the DCI does have the authority to have the body transported to its labs, in the case of criminal activity, for further investigation if they deem it necessary. 

Mr. Geilenfeld brought to our attention that taking the body to Ankeny for an autopsy adds two days of extra burden to family members, as it is difficult to make firm plans for a funeral when you have to wait for the return of a loved one and hope there is not a delay at the facility in Ankeny.  With the autopsy performed at the funeral home, the two days are removed and the family can move forward in planning arrangements.

The Supervisors truly appreciated meeting with the county medical examiner and the funeral director. It was very beneficial and gave us new insight as to how and why things are handled as they are.

Thank you to Dr. Leo and Mr. Geilenfeld for giving me permission to use their names in this article.

All comments and concerns may be emailed to me at:  jtellin@co.fayette.ia.us.

On a personal note:  I have a request for any group/organization who may be interested in helping to beautify the courthouse square. On the square, on the west side of the courthouse, there is a large circular, raised, stone flower bed/container that needs a friend. Weeding flowers and watering are needed, so if you are interested in a community/county service project like this, please contact me.    

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