SAN ANTONIO – When a loved one passes away, it’s the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office telling the family how that person passed.
The office can even play a role in murder investigations, but staffing shortages are making it difficult to do their job.
“With a rising population, we also have more deaths than before, just natural deaths,” Peine said.
Tom Peine, with the county commissioner’s office, spoke on behalf of the medical examiner’s office because the entire team is busy working autopsies.
“Right now, it’s a tense situation and the office is really doing their best that they can,” Peine said.
There are eight medical examiner positions and only half are filled. Now, administrators are having to take time from their work to fill in the gaps.
Peine said hiring new medical examiners is challenging because only 40 board-certified medical examiners graduate from their fellowship every year across the US.
Candidates need a medical doctorate and board certification.
“Everybody is rushing up to them and wants to hire them. So basically, they can pick and choose wherever they want to go,” Peine said.
A Bexar County medical examiner could earn up to $300,000 a year. Compared to Tarrant County, at $375,000.
Commissioners recently approved a stipend for the examiner’s extra workload, but the work can be emotionally taxing.
“We all know that the office of the medical examiner has been through a lot, and that is simply because we had two mass casualty events in quick succession,” Peine said.