JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville broke ground Monday on a new multi-million-dollar medical examiner’s office.
The new facility, which will be significantly larger than the current facility, will be on North Davis Street, near I-95 and Golfair, in the Brentwood area.
The current medical examiner’s office, which was built nearly 60 years ago in 1968, has struggled with space -- a situation the News4JAX I-TEAM has been covering for years.
We learned about an internal email in 2017 from former Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Rao. She stated there was a dire lack of space, and one body had to be put on the floor. This lack of space happened as drug overdoses spiked across the area.
A few years later in 2020, COVID-19 made the issue even worse. A trailer was brought onto the site for additional office space, along with a cooler to handle bodies.
Now the city plans to spend over $62 million to build a new medical examiner’s office, which is expected to be completed by the winter of 2025.
Instead of only holding 100 bodies at max capacity -- the new site can hold up to 300.
City representatives and the chief medical examiners unveiled a rendering of the new facility at a groundbreaking ceremony Monday.
The building will be roughly 51,000 square feet and two stories high.
Tim Crutchfield, the director of Operations of the District 4 Medical Examiner’s Office, said unlike the current facility, the new one will have the capability to grow and expand with the community.
“This facility can accommodate situations in which there would be a rather rapid increase in decedents. So, we can quickly expand to 300 decedents if we had to,” said Crutchfield, who has been with the office since 2016. “The facility is designed to accommodate our medical staff and even the growth in our medical staff.”
According to leaders, the specific location of the new office was chosen to save taxpayers a few bucks.
“The city actually owns this property,” Crutchfield said. “So, there is really no reason to go find another property when this one would actually accommodate our needs.”