Submitted photo

A ground breaking ceremony celebrated the construction of Johnson County’s first-ever medical examiner facility.
More than 80 county elected officials and leaders, law enforcement representatives, construction and design partners and other interested stakeholders gathered Dec. 13 to celebrate the construction kickoff of the project located on the Johnson County Government campus near 119th Street and Ridgeview in Olathe.
Speakers included Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert, County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, Department of Health & Environment Director Lougene Marsh, PGAV Architects Principal Mike Schaadt and McCarthy Building Companies Project Manager Eric Dill. Also in attendance was Diane C. Peterson, M.D. who will serve as the new medical examiner and county coroner for Johnson County beginning in January 2019.
“Law enforcement agencies are excited for this new medical examiner facility that will provide better resources for suspicious or criminal investigations involving a death,” says Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. “The greater community will benefit from a more efficient process in conducting these investigations.”
“Having our own medical examiner facility in Johnson County will provide a great benefit for the public’s health and our understanding of the health issues facing the community,” says Johnson County Department of Health & Environment Director Lougene Marsh. “If a novel virus is identified during post-mortem work, that early identification is critical to saving future lives. Real-time information about important public health issues like flu/pneumonia deaths, suicide and opioid (or other illicit drug) overdose deaths creates the opportunity for more timely prevention and intervention efforts.”
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 medical examiner facility. The single story building will be approximately 33,000-square-feet and is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2020.