INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Coroner’s Office is making a plea for funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Between COVID-19, homicides and drug-related deaths, they’ve seen an increase in their workload.
Chief Deputy Coroner Alferna McGinty says they are asking for the funding to do things like provide their employees with premium pay for the extra work, and to do necessary infrastructure improvements.
“Our office was initially not included in being a recipient of the CARES Act money. I think because initially it was so new to everyone and people didn’t really know, you know, what to do or how the distribution of those funds should be,” said McGinty.
McGinty says they’ve been on the frontlines of the pandemic and part of the guidance for the Rescue Funds includes things her office is directly involved in, like surveillance and reporting final numbers.
“You have to be able to count the number of deaths and fatalities in order to identify what preventive efforts should be,” said McGinty.
“Rather it relates to health care or with the COVID-19 or with the epidemic of the homicide rates, our office and our investigators are directly involved in all of those fronts.”
They’ve seen a 78% increase in death investigations–something they say takes serious manpower, not just with the investigations but dealing with those connected.
“Helping the families get through the process. Giving the families answers. So, it’s more than just the investigation, we also deal with the community and the families who are involved,” McGinty said.
“If we can’t do our job adequately, due to lack of funding, lack of staffing, being overwhelmed, you will see some errors and some things that could potentially be missed and we want to make sure that we are doing the best job that we can do, for the families in the community that we serve and all of Marion County.”
A spokesperson from the mayor’s office says the coroner’s office got $565,373 in FEMA/CRF reimbursement for COVID response in 2020. Their employees got a one-time bonus of $36,621. And so far this year, they’ve gotten $54,584 in additional FEMA reimbursement in 2021.
When it comes to American Rescue Plan funds, they are also in contact with the coroner’s office and will continue to evaluate things.
Who’s getting funds has not been announced yet, but the spokesperson says public safety will be a critical piece.
The city count council spokesperson says the council will be engaged in conversations about this as plans solidify.