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Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office could expand due to increase in drug overdose deaths

Posted at 6:38 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 18:38:44-04

MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — An expansion of the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office could be on the way. Officials say the main reason such an expansion is needed is because of the continued increase in the number of drug overdose deaths, most of them opioid related.

"I think it's gone beyond capacity right now and a lot of it is attributed to the problems we're seeing with the opioids and the crisis with drugs," says Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. "We're looking at how to add to the staffing so that we can support the number of autopsies we are doing, which means we are going to add another pathologist."

The medical examiner's office was built in 2007. Its chief medical examiner, Dr. Daniel Spitz, says since then, the staff has almost doubled. He says while Macomb County's aging population is a big factor, the main reason they need to expand is because of the significant number of drug overdose deaths.

He says they're looking to add more cooler space, staff work space and additional security.

"We're not at the point of anything catastrophic by any stretch, but it's something that we're addressing because it's going to be stressing our facility here going forward," Spitz said. "We're looking out 25 years."

Marlo Pizzo lost her son Ross to a heroin overdose in May of 2018. When it comes to the main reason behind a potential expansion at the medical examiner's office, she says, "It just is a tremendous feeling of sadness... that that's the state that we've arrived at."

Pizzo hopes whatever expansion may be done will help better serve the staff and ultimately the families who have lost so much.

We're told the financial plan will be presented to the board of commissioners and it's possible they could bring in more staff and start construction early next year.