Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Round of Committees, Road Patrol, Autopsies,

This week we had our final round of committee meetings for the year. I had County Services and Finance. First, let me thank the Chairs of those committees. Dale Copedge did a great job running the County Services in an expedient and effective manner, and Mark Grebner was a fair and effective Finance Committee Chair. We had a busy yet great year.

In Finance, we dealt with the ongoing road patrol and police services issue. We passed a resolution allowing for a contract with Williamstown and/or Alaedon Township to retain 5 deputies and provide the townships money for police services (up to $220,571) if they contract with the Sheriff (County). Ironically, we also found out that Williamstown Twp passed a resolution to contract with Meridian Township for police, which means that they are turning down the county dollars. We were told that the Township Board said they didn't want to contract with the county because they don't like the Board of Commissioners. In doing so, they rejected $124,000 offered by the county. Meridian's offer was less expensive than the County's (not including the $124,000) and the Sheriff’s staff are checking to see how that is possible because Meridian police officers make more in salary than the county deputies make. The Williamstown-Meridian contract apparently contracted for 80-100 hours of service per week, and a pro-rated rate after that.

Also, as you may recall, a few weeks ago the County heard from several parties about the dollars that we were being expected to pay for autopsies. To briefly summarize, Sparrow planned to charge us a lot more than they are currently charging. The Health Department found another person to do the autopsies in Genesee county who would charge a lot less. As a result, though, the Prosecutor and City of Lansing said that using Genesee county would increase their costs because they would have to travel to Genesee county with the bodies. After that, our staff went into negotiations.

Well, I am happy to report that there is a resolution to this issue. Our Health Director and Controller met with the various parties involved. The result is a resolution that passed Human Services and Finance which will approve a contract with Sparrow Hospital for services to support the Medical Examiner’s office for the next 4 years (starting in March). Under the current system, the Medical Examiner utilizes Health Department staff and contracted physicians, through appointments as Deputy Medical Examiners, to perform many of these functions, and contracts with local pathologists for autopsy services. The proposed agreement with Sparrow, though, is all inclusive and eliminates the need for the current arrangement. The services to be performed by Sparrow include all postmortem examinations, records management, death certificates, cremation permit authorizations, and death investigations.

Under the current arrangement, the actual expenditures for Medical Examiner services are approximately $350,000 per year. The cost to the County under the negotiated terms will be up to $320,000 per year and will not change during the next four years. This price includes 160 autopsies. If Sparrow performs more than 160 autopsies in a given year, there will be an additional charge of $1,200 per autopsy for the first ten cases, the next ten would be $1,400, and all autopsies over a caseload of 180 will be $1,600. If Sparrow performs less then 160 autopsies in a given year, the County would be similarly credited. We have been told by our staff that they do not expect more than 160 autopsies to happen in any given year. So, this will very likely be a savings to the county, will ensure that we are using a local hospital for these services, and will prevent the Lansing Police and the Prosecutor from having to expend additional dollars. Overall, this is a win-win-win for all parties!

That’s it for now!

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