New $62 million medical examiner’s office proposed to help deal with overcrowding issues

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The medical examiner’s office in Jacksonville has been dealing with space issues for years.

During an investigation, News4JAX learned that at one point years ago, the medical examiner’s office had to place a body on the floor because there wasn’t enough room.

On Tuesday, legislation is being introduced to build a new multi-million facility to help deal with the issue.

The District 4 Medical Examiner’s Office along with the morgue is part of the UF Health Campus near downtown. It was built in 1968 and it services a large area not only in Duval but in Clay and Nassau counties.

In 2017, as drug overdoses rose in the area, the I-TEAM learned about an internal email from Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Rao to all 19 city council members, in which she stated there was a “dire lack of space” and one body had to be put on the floor. Those bodies needed to be autopsied and examined to learn the cause of death. Then COVID-19 came along and the lack of space is still a problem today even though a trailer was brought to the site for additional office space and a cooler was added to handle bodies.

It’s something the city council is going to address again.

Emergency legislation is being introduced Tuesday to spend over $62 million to build a new medical examiner’s office.

News4JAX asked to talk to the current medical examiner and those with the mayor’s staff to learn more about the facility and what it all will entail. No one got back to us, but they will be addressing the city council in the future.

The big question is, where’s it going to be built?

An area near Interstate 95 and Golfair Boulevard is the plan for right now. The city council is considering the funding and there could be groundbreaking in the very near future.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.