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Grand Jury report finds Coroner's current facility is inadequate, hampering operations

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Posted at 1:42 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 17:22:15-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Grand Jury report released Tuesday found that the current Kern County Coroner's Office is running out of an inadequate facility, hampering operations.

According to the report, "It appears the Coroner is functioning in the 21st century with 1970s infrastructure."

The Kern County Coroner's Office is located at 1832 Flower Street. It is on the Kern Medical Campus north of the hospital and additional land is not available to allow for the expansion of the hospital or the Coroner’s facility, according to the report.

The office facility has only two autopsy sinks and the maximum number of autopsies that can be performed at one time is two. Generally, only four autopsies can be completed in a work day.

The report also said that the Coroner's Office shares a warehouse with the Public Administrator where paper records dating back to the late 1800s are stored in cardboard boxes. The warehouse also holds refrigerated trailers in which overflow decedents are currently stored.

"In the event of power outages, the Coroner’s facility is connected to the backup power grid for Kern Medical," the report said. "However, there is no backup power source for the warehouse."

Among other issues the report noted were unsecured areas allowing transients to break-in and insufficient staffing.

The Grand Jury recommended the coroner's facility be expanded to handle 200 decedents at any given time, the Sheriff develop a plan to provide dedicated generators to maintain the refrigeration systems in the main building and the warehouse, a plan be developed for ongoing in-service training to support probationary Coroner’s staff, and better security be provided.

The jury also recommended files be digitally archived.