Medical Examiner on test delays: The results have to be right; that takes time

June 16, 2017 08:50 PM

For the past two months, we've documented a problem with the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office.

Police chiefs tell us drug and alcohol testing that used to take two to three months are now taking up to half a year and sometimes longer.

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Speaking Friday with News10NBC, Doctor Nadia Granger says the office is not fully staffed right now. It has more cases with complex mixtures of heroin and that is causing the delays.

We sat down with Doctor Granger inside her board room. We told her police chiefs say it's taking five to seven months to get results.

Berkeley Brean: "Why is it taking that long?"

Dr. Nadia Granger: "When a case is brought into our office..."

Doctor Granger explained how the kinds of chemicals mixed with heroin make it more difficult to pinpoint the cause of death. She walked us through the steps they take to test for the drugs.

"It's something we can go into court and say, 'we did it appropriately, we did it the right way. Yes, we are confident that these results are correct,'" the doctor explains. "That's what takes time."

Thursday, at the Medical Examiner's request, police chiefs in Monroe County met with Doctor Granger to talk about the delay problem.

Gates Chief Jim VanBrederode, who was in the meeting, says the ME just doesn't have enough staff.

"It's a matter of manpower," says Chief VanBrederode, "clearly it's manpower."

Brean: "On June 16, do you have enough staff?"

Dr. Nadia Granger: "We have enough staff to do the work we're doing right now. The toxicology lab is fully staffed."

A new associate medical examiner starts in July. Two examples of the problem: Gates police want to charge this man with criminally negligent homicide for selling heroin to a woman who died from it.

But they don't have the test results back yet. Macedon police want to charge the driver of this car that plowed into a family's home, but it doesn't have the blood test result yet.

The car crashed into Mikka Minguela's home.

Minguela says, "My life and my family's life has been turned upside down because of this."

"It's definitely affecting not the criminal prosecution end of it but closure for victims of crimes," said Chief John Colella.

Brean: "Are you concerned at all that the time it takes to process these samples is going to affect a criminal case? Someone who may or may not be guilty may be."

Dr. Granger: "Our concern is that we do our job the right way. I would not want to be responsible for rushing a sample or treating a sample inappropriately and having that result in difficulties in a criminal case."


Berkeley Brean

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