Lubbock Co. commissioners ‘excited’ about possible new medical examiner’s office

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:26 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock County commissioners say they are excited about the progress underway to building a new medical examiner’s office.

While the total budget for it remains unapproved, the court was pleased with today’s staff update. Lubbock county commissioners are planning to build the new office in north Lubbock County near the detention center.

The court initially approved 10 million dollars in federal funding for that construction. The commissioners are currently working on the funding to get it up and running.

“We’re building it because this is what Lubbock County needs,” Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said.

Lubbock county first outsourced its autopsy services in 2019, sending bodies to Tarrant County. Over the years, this has led to backlogs, delaying services by weeks. Parrish stated a growing county will only make these delays worse.

“It’s time for us to build a new medical examining office, and that way all of these autopsy services and our medical examining services will be done here in Lubbock County,” Parrish said.

He stated the new building could cost up to 44 million dollars if the funds are not allocated efficiently, and that is why the budget approval has taken so long. The first 10 million dollars come from the American Rescue Plan, set aside specifically for the development and architecture of the building.

“We’re looking to pulling as much funding as we can for this facility,” Parrish said.

The biggest priority for the building is ensuring it meets the needs of the community, Parrish stated.

“During the pandemic, we ran out of morgue space,” Parrish said. “As this county grows, and as we get bigger and bigger, we need it to be a first-class facility.”

The county will also need a forensic pathologist, but the need for people in this profession extends across the United States. About five thousand forensic pathologists are needed across the country.

“Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is providing us opportunities to attract other forensic pathologist,” he said.

In addition, there is no plan for a toxicology lab, meanings investigators would need to get those services elsewhere. Parrish stated as Lubbock continues to grow its services will continue to expand.

“Looking at 25, 30, 40 years in the future, we’re building not just for today, but for tomorrow,” he said.

Once it is completed, the building will also be available for our surrounding counties, but until the budget is solidified, there is no opening date.