View Weather Cameras

Click to view live weather cameras

***Wind Advisory in Effect from 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon through 9 p.m.***

National shortage means El Paso County still looking for a chief medical examiner

Updated: Wednesday, December 18 2013, 10:04 PM MST
National shortage means El Paso County still looking for a chief medical examiner  story image

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- It's the highest-paid position in the county, but it's proving difficult to fill.

El Paso County closes in on three years on its search for a chief medical examiner since county commissioners fired Dr. Paul Shrode in 2010 for lying on his resume.

Despite an overwhelming presence on prime-time TV, the role of medical examiner is a tough one to fill all over the country.

The national shortage means there are only around 450 practicing pathologists. Not enough students entering the field and more lucrative job opportunities compound the problem. Plus, counties compete with hospitals and the private sectors for licensed medical examiners.

The shortage has led to a prolonged search, and even though resumes have rolled in, the county hasn't found the right fit.

"Commissioners Court, while it is very important for them to get the position filled, they have been very conscientious about getting it filled with the right person versus just any person," said Betsy Keller, the human resource director for El Paso County.


A new state law is opening the door for more candidates. Previously, the county could only hire those licensed in Texas. Now, as long as the applicant is licensed in another state, he or she can receive a provisional license.

The price for communities unable to fill the position gets costly because they have to contract the work out to a private medical examiner.

"That's usually on a fee-per-autopsy rate which is much, much more expensive for the county than if we are able to keep our office staff," said Keller.


Commissioners recently named former interim chief Dr. Juan Contin as chief while they continue the search for someone permanent, as Contin has plans to retire.

Ultimately, the county is looking for someone that can lead them to national accreditation.


Earlier this year, Contin hired a new deputy chief and is now working on hiring a second, hopefully by this summer.

"When we have three doctors on staff, they'll be able to distribute the work load, the case load on all three doctors, which will significantly reduce the case load on Dr. Contin and Dr. Rascon to a more manageable, reasonable level," said Keller.

Keller said they've spent less than $50,000 in their search for a chief medical examiner.

They are continuing to actively advertise the job with different professional associations, and they send out recruitment brochures. They have also sought the advice of experienced medical examiners across the country.

Keller said there is potential for one of the deputy chiefs to get enough experience to grow into the position.

The county considered hiring a search firm but did not receive any bids they were interested in.

National shortage means El Paso County still looking for a chief medical examiner
comments powered by Disqus

El Paso Times Headlines

Photo contest: Send us your El Paso Chihuahuas fan photos
Are you ready for Triple-A baseball in El Paso? Send us a photo showing your El Paso Chihuahuas fan gear before the team's home opener on Monday.
Traffic Update: Accident at I-10 East and Sunland Park
8:50 a.m.: Accident reported on the 3400 block of McKinley Avenue near Copia Street.
Trivia contest: Win two tickets to Beck concert in El Paso Thursday
How much do you know about Beck? Enter our trivia contest for a chance to win two tickets to Beck's concert at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Abraham Chavez Theatre in Downtown El Paso.
Lupita Nyong'o named People's 'Most Beautiful'

NEW YORK - People magazine has named Lupita Nyong'o as the "World's Most Beautiful" for 2014.

KFOX: Police respond to stabbing at Downtown De Soto Hotel

A man was reportedly stabbed at the De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso, but El Paso police are calling this incident a "pending investigation."

KFOX Weather: Partly cloudy, warm and windy

KFOX Weather: Wind advisory: 1- 9 p.m.

Partly cloudy, warm and windy

Texas DPS report: Sureño street gang has grown in El Paso
A new Texas Department of Public Safety report on gangs says there are concerns in El Paso over the growth of a street gang with ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel.
El Paso Community College makes move on accreditation
While many were filing last-minute tax returns last week, El Paso Community College sent documentation to a regional accrediting body in hope the school will placed on track for full accreditation.
El Paso, Texas funds swap discussion takes wild turn at City Council
What was expected to be an easy swap of funds between the city and state for several transportation projects took a wild turn down a winding road Tuesday.
Worker insurance coverage may change in Texas
At least 500,000 Texas employees are not covered by any kind of workplace insurance because the state is the only one not to require employers to provide such coverage.
'Piles and piles' of bodies in South Sudan slaughter
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The townsfolk believed the mosque was safe. They crammed inside as rebel forces in South Sudan took control of the town from government troops. But it wasn't safe. Robbers grabbed their cash and mobile phones. Then gunmen came and opened fire on everyone, young and old.
El Paso again has longest doctor waiting times among 50 largest cities
El Paso has the longest waiting times at doctors' offices for the third consecutive year, shows a study done by Vitals.
ESPN reports Missouri considering UTEP's Tim Floyd
UTEP coach Tim Floyd's name is now bouncing across the country as the potential new coach at the University of Missouri.
Feds: New laws, oversight needed after Texas fertilizer plant explosion
WEST, Texas (AP) - The Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people a year ago could have been prevented - and agencies at all levels haven't done enough to change the circumstances that led to the catastrophe, federal officials said Tuesday.
Ukraine orders new military operation in the east
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's acting president ordered security forces to resume operations in the country's east on Tuesday after the bodies of two people allegedly abducted by pro-Russia insurgents were found and a military aircraft was reportedly hit by gunfire.

Top Stories

Come back often for updates of top national, state and local El Paso area news stories. KFOX covers topics including politics, crime, sports, entertainment, health, economy and other news related subjects. KFOX is dedicated to providing the best, timely and up to date news reporting for El Paso and New Mexico.

Talkers

advertisement
KFOX14 El Paso - Live Cast Watch live broadcasts of KFOX14 News seven days a week!
advertisement
advertisement