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May 02, 2000

Eva Kohout
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77622

New state-of-the-art autopsy suite open at London Health Sciences Centre

(LONDON, Ontario) - Today, the official grand opening of the state-of-the-art Autopsy Suite took place at University Campus of London Health Sciences Centre. Dr. J.G. Young, Chief Coroner for Ontario, was on hand to celebrate this important milestone, as well as participate in the official ribbon cutting ceremony and tour with Mayor Dianne Haskett and President and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre, Tony Dagnone. The facility is one of the first projects to be completed under the London hospitals restructuring mandate, and will be one of the busiest in Canada performing up to 600 postmortem examinations per year.

"The primary purpose of this facility and its staff is to provide an important service to the community," remarked Dr. Michael J. Shkrum, Head, Autopsy Services, Department of Pathology at London Health Sciences Centre. "By investigating the cause of death of an individual, we help bring closure to the family and the community."

The autopsy facility is one component of the Department of Pathology. The Department of Pathology has a wide range of expertise dealing with diseases affecting various organ systems and the staff of this department is responsible for determining the cause of death in those affected with such diseases. The role of an autopsy facility is to assist the coroner and the police in the investigation into sudden and unnatural deaths. This is known as Forensic Pathology.

Under the restructuring mandate, The Department of Pathology will eventually consolidate at University Campus of the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) when St. Joseph's Health Care London transfers all of its Pathology Services to LHSC. The autopsy component is the first step in this long-term process.

"The opening of the Autopsy Suite marks a major milestone in laboratory redevelopment," said Glen Dietz, City-Wide Manager, Laboratory Services. "It's among the first restructuring and consolidation projects to be completed, and the facility and its staff will provide efficient services city-wide and for Southwestern Ontario."

The autopsy facility contains a separate and private room which will provide a better environment in which to interact with families who gather to say goodbye to a loved one. This room will also be used by police and other emergency service personnel during investigations. Other features include controlled access, camera monitoring, and measures to ensure continuity of evidence and security when working with the coroner and the police. Research and teaching will also be a focus in the new facility.

"This state-of-the-art facility is a collaborative effort between its members, LHSC planners, building professionals and other stakeholders, all of whom are to be commended. It is an excellent example of a service designed around family and community needs and will allow this organization to continue its pursuit of excellence in care, research and academics," states Dagnone.