Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dem Coroner Candidate Dave Bachmann Questions Incumbent Marlene Lantz Lack of Role in “Angel of Death” Nursing Home Deaths and More Prosaic Questions

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog printed information from McHenry County Democratic Party Coroner Candidate Dave Bachmann on how the Indiana State Coroners Training Board answers these questions:
  • When is a death a coroner's case?
  • What are the requirements to become a coroner?
Today, the only countywide Democratic Party candidate to face primary voters puts his views of when a coroner should get involved in a death in writing and critiques incumbent Republican Party Coroner Marlene Lantz' performance in office.

(Let me repeat my offer to publish press releases from any local candidate. Replies to press releases like this certainly are included in that offer.)

Among his prosaic criticisms, Bachmann seems to be saying that the current office is overstaffed, suggesting the county board needs to concentrate on more fiscal oversight.

Bachmann also questions whether the continuing education taken by Lantz has been excessive.

Potentially most explosively, Bachmann asks,
“Where was Coroner Lantz when the nursing home in Woodstock had an 'angel of death' working within?

“A spike in deaths of over 100 percent in 9 months from the previous 5 year totals? The nursing homes have to call the coroners office when any death occurs to verify a doctor will sign the death certificate.

“This should have been noticed by the coroners office.”
His comments follow:
Let me put this into context for you.

When I was an embalmer in California, at the funeral home I worked, we handled 2,000 bodies per year.. THERE WERE ONLY 4 of us. We picked every body up, embalmed them, dressed them, casket-ed them, and had one secretary handle the death certificates. This included 24 hour shift work coverage for night calls.

When I operated a human remains shipping company out of south Florida, myself and only one other man, handled 500 bodies per year... that was A LOT of work... picking up the body, embalming and preparing for shipment, (many were autopsied bodies, which is twice the work to prepare) doing all the death certificate work, which included tracking down the doctor, waiting in his office for him to sign, doing the burial transit permits also requiring going to the local heath department, contacting the airlines for arrangements... and, driving the body to the airline cargo department. Plus, speaking to the family of the deceased. Again 24 hour on call work.

Our coroner (Marlene Lantz)says she has six employees... and given the numbers, I believe she may "handle" at most 350 cases per year.. and out of those 350, many are just phone call releases (going by a county population of 300,000). This county in Indiana, Marion County.. has 900,000 residents... They have 7 deputies, plus 2 secretaries.. and it's a major city.. Indy...

Plus, lets not forget.. in addition to the staff mentioned, there is also a doctor, a pathologist who actually comes in and does the work, the autopsy, along with his assistant. So the deputies and Lantz really never even work on a body, unlike what I was doing for years...

I have no idea how this has gotten by the county board?

I plan to lift the veil from this office, and tell our county board how it REALLY works.

Our tax payers have to rely upon their elected officers.

Ms. Lantz has stated she enjoys teaching and speaking at colleges? (See page 26 of The Town Crier's pre-primary voters' guide:
“I also enjoy teaching and have done several programs for Purdue University in LaFayette, as well as at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, IN and at Concordia University in River Forest, IL. I assist in the field work at Dr. Neal Haskell’s yearly Entomology Workshop in Rensselaer and I also speak to the local high schools and colleges. About what? On the 24 continuing education hours required per year, what could she possibly be an expert on? Unless she has taken so many hours above and beyond the requirements of state law. The law says, "at least 24 hours.")
I bet that has really been stretched.. and the expenses that go with out of town seminars? I'd like the press to find out these numbers from the county Auditor. Although taking more than 24 hours is not illegal, it's "Resume Building" at tax payer expense. Then taking this resume out of county to give speeches at colleges?

People need to keep in mind, McHenry County is NOT under a Medical Examiners System. ANYBODY may run for coroner!

Where was Coroner Lantz when the nursing home in Woodstock had an "angel of death" working within? A spike in deaths of over 100 percent in 9 months from the previous 5 year totals? The nursing homes have to call the coroners office when any death occurs to verify a doctor will sign the death certificate. This should have been noticed by the coroners office.

MY friend is a 50 veteran of the funeral business in Coles County (where Eastern Illinois University is located). He asked his coroner, “How many hours of continuing ed have you taken?. He stated 400 hours last year.. PLUS all expenses... since I brought this up, he checked it out.

I've asked Illinois Coroners Association for a copy of its updated laws; they refuse to answer my request!

David J. Bachmann
Posted on McHenry County Blog first.


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