On Nov. 1, the Board of County Commissioners received an update on the Johnson County medical examiner facility. Johnson County has long studied the need for its own medical examiner facility to perform autopsies and death investigations. The Johnson County voters approved a ¼-cent sales tax in November 2016 to build a $21 million facility.
The board heard from Brad Reinhardt the director of facilities management, Lougene Marsh, the director of department of health & environment, and Mike Schaadt, the principal of PGAV Architects. The presentation included a project overview, project renderings and animation, an update on schedule and information about the county’s new chief medical examiner. Renderings and animation presented to the board are available on the county’s website..
The single story medical examiner facility is approximately 33,000-square-feet and will be located on the Johnson County Government campus at the intersection of 119th and Ridgeview in Olathe. The project team visited peer facilities in New Mexico, Maryland, Kansas and Missouri to gather information on best practices, design efficiencies and ideas for specialty fixtures and equipment.

The goals of the new medical examiner facility are:
• Increase autopsy rates to meet appropriate national benchmarks.
• Build a state of the art, high-functioning facility, known for excellence and leadership.
• Facilitate National Association of Medical Examiners (N.A.M.E.) accreditation by meeting scientific requirements.
• Provide reliable data for public health to identify trends and emerging diseases.
As far as next steps, the Board of County Commissioners, acting as the Public Building Commission, is scheduled to approve the Guaranteed Maximum Price contract on Nov. 15. The construction budget is $16.5 million. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 13. The project should be completed by the end of 2019, with move in taking place first quarter 2020 and the opening of the building second quarter 2020.

Update on Johnson County Chief Medical Examiner
On Oct. 11, 2018, the Board of County Commissioners approved the appointment of Dr. Diane C. Peterson, as deputy county coroner. By the end of this year, the BOCC will be asked to authorize Peterson as county coroner effective Jan. 14, 2019.  She will become employed by Johnson County Government as the chief medical examiner on January 2. Peterson will begin performing a limited number of autopsies prior to the completion of the Johnson County Medical Examiner Facility.
Autopsies in Johnson County are now and will continue to be conducted at a private medical facility in Kansas City, Kan.. The county now averages more than 250 to 300 autopsies per year.