groundbreaking

The District 8 Medical Examiner's Office held a ground breaking for a new facility Wednesday. It is scheduled to open in October.

Devoun Cetoute / Alligator

The medical examiner’s office that covers Alachua County and surrounding counties broke ground Wednesday afternoon on a new facility that will double its working space.

The new District 8 Medical Examiner’s Office, which will be located at 3217 SW 47th Ave., is scheduled to open in October, said Bruce Goldberger, director of the UF Health Forensic Medicine and UF Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine.

The construction for the facility will cost about $2 million and is funded by D.E. Scorpio Corporation, a construction management company, said Domenic Scorpio, the project’s construction manager.

The current building located on Southwest 3rd Avenue has been open since 1996 and has fallen out of date over the years, Goldberger said.

“The air conditioning and the heat is inadequate and essentially not functional,” he said. “The morgue doesn’t meet the standards of what a morgue should be, both in terms of the conduct of autopsies as well as even safety.”

Death investigations have been increasing in the district, with about 740 in 2017, said Dr. William Hamilton, the chief medical examiner. The number of death investigations in 2016 was not immediately available.

The new facility will have enough space to hold 20 bodies, as opposed to the current maximum of 10, and allow room for three autopsies to be performed at a time, Goldberger said.

It will also feature up-to-date equipment, administration offices and a sally port, which is a three-vehicle garage where investigations can be conducted inside and away from the elements, Goldberger said.

Due to an increasing workload since he was appointed as chief in 1981, Hamilton said he has helped move the office four times, but now, he’s ready to finish out his career in one last space.

“I look forward to actually enjoying being in this new facility for a year or two before finally hanging up my scalpel and going back to a well-deserved retirement,” he said.