MU plans to add to anatomy morgue

Facility’s expansion could allow service
for other counties.
Monday, May 2, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:29 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MU’s School of Medicine plans to renovate its anatomy morgue, spending $1.5 million to add about 1,000 square feet to the 1,700-square-foot facility.

The Boone County medical examiner’s office on St. Charles Road and the school’s anatomy morgue on campus each have two autopsy tables. The newly renovated space would have six autopsy tables.

Bud Smith, administrative director of the pathology and anatomical sciences department, said the renovation would allow all autopsies to be performed in one facility.

Boone and Callaway counties have contracts with MU. The university hired Valerie Rao in March 2004 as the counties’ chief medical examiner.

“The university has contractually provided the services of a medical examiner to Boone County for approximately 20 years,” Smith said.

The renovations would allow the school to expand services beyond Boone and Callaway counties to new clients that could help pay for the proposed morgue, Smith said, and the relationship between the school and the counties would continue with the morgue expansion.

“If the project is approved, we will request a loan through the university internal borrowing process,” Smith said.

The university’s internal borrowing program Web site states that loans will be made only if funds are available. Loan amounts that are more than $50,000 or are financed beyond three years must include special justification. Loans of more than $500,000 require the chancellor’s approval and are reviewed by the Board of Curators.

Smith said the proposed expansion would allow additional tables, including two that could be closed off for infectious cases. It also would provide better lighting and ventilation.

The facility at St. Charles Road has an autopsy suite, a reception area, offices, a walk-in cooler, and storage space, making up about 2,200 square feet, Smith said.

“The proposed facility gains some square footage, but the major benefit is the open-floor-plan design that allows much more efficient use of the space,” he said.

Medical students are likely to benefit from the expansion, he said.

“A marked benefit to an on-campus facility would be the enhancement of our teaching mission,” Smith said. “Currently, resident physicians serve rotations out there (at the facility on St. Charles Road) but usually see just the cases being performed during their rotations. With the service here on campus, they could be called down to observe unusual findings any time.”

The first design meeting for the project was last week, Smith said, and there are a number of approval steps required before the process can move forward.

The design process should take about six months. Smith said construction is planned beginning in the fall and will take 10 to 12 months.

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