The West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center (WTRFC), which has been managed by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) since July 1, 2014, has been reaccredited by The National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). The association is the premier organization of physician medical examiners, coroners, medical death investigators and medicolegal system administrators in the United States.
According to NAME, accreditation is an endorsement that policies and procedures of the office meet prescribed standards for medicolegal systems. Accreditation, which involves an onsite, peer-review process and is conferred for a period of five years, signifies that the office performs with a high degree of competence and attention to public service. The review looks at administration and procedures, but does not apply to individual practitioners or the work produced by the office.
The WTRFC houses the Shelby County Medical Examiner’s Office, and oversees medicolegal death investigation services for 20 counties west of the Tennessee River. The Shelby County Commission last year awarded UTHSC a one-year, $3.1 million contract to operate the facility, with an option to renew for three additional one-year periods.
“We work for the people of Shelby County. This accreditation means that every citizen can be assured that medicolegal death investigation in Shelby County occurs at the highest level,” said Karen Chancellor, MD, chief medical examiner for Shelby County. Dr. Chancellor, a forensic pathologist, also serves as a professor in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC.
“We bid on the contract for the WTRFC because we believe we are uniquely positioned to deliver high-quality, cost-effective management, and to further the education, public service, clinical care and research the facility delivers for the benefit of the health and welfare of the citizens of Shelby County and West Tennessee,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC.
“Reaccreditation confirms our success,” he said. “I am proud of each person at the WTRFC for continuing to do this very difficult job, and for being the consummate professionals necessary to achieve full accreditation status.”
Investigations by the county medical examiner’s office totaled 2,687 in 2011; 3,709 in 2012; and 4,152 in 2013. The WTRFC is located at 637 Poplar in a $10 million facility that opened in June 2012.