Lt. Governor Brown Leads State Forensic Medical Center Ribbon Cutting Opening

Places Maryland on the leading- edge of forensic pathology;
Construction created 500 jobs


BALTIMORE, Md. (September 21, 2010) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today joined state and elected officials, civic leaders and the region’s experts in forensic science and medicine at opening ceremonies for the State’s new $44 million Forensic Medical Center.  Its construction brings to Maryland a sophisticated way to fight crime and a better way to identify troublesome public health trends.

“I am proud to be a part of the celebration for our new state-of-the-art forensic pathology facility in Baltimore. This exciting development will allow our science experts to conduct research and complete forensic examinations in a more conducive environment, supporting the state’s criminal justice system and enabling our law enforcement officers to solve more crimes,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “This significant project created 500 jobs during its two years of construction, including a minority business participation of more than 25 percent. Governor O’Malley and I will continue to support important programs and projects like the Forensic Medical Center that spur economic development, create jobs, improve public safety and enhance the health and wellbeing of all Marylanders.”

Along with its critical role in helping to solve murders, the medical examiner also investigates unexpected deaths to determine if previously unidentified trends or possible contagious diseases pose a threat to the public’s health.

“This new state-of-the-art building gives Maryland a facility with the physical capacity and the technology to enable our medical examiners to more efficiently and effectively determine cause and manner of death,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Secretary John M. Colmers. “The Maryland medical examiner investigates almost 25 percent of all deaths in Maryland, a total of 10,000 death investigations and 4,000 autopsies a year to gather information that is critical to our public health efforts.”
For example, Maryland’s medical examiners conduct autopsies on those who were unattended by a physician and unexpectedly passed away.  Although the procedure often confirms a known cause such as overexposure to heat or cold, an unusual trend may emerge such as tainted narcotics, highly infectious bacteria that cause meningitis, or release of a deadly toxin that would trigger public health officials to alert the public.

“DGS is most proud of the significant collaborative effort that resulted in the construction of the most modern medical examiners facility in the United States,” said Maryland Department of General Services (DGS) Secretary Alvin C. Collins.  “Working closely with DHMH and the medical examiners’ staff, DGS managed both the design and construction of this world-class facility which will serve the State and its citizens well into the future.”

In keeping with Governor Martin O’Malley’s energy initiatives, a number of efficiencies have been incorporated into the Center’s design including a curtain wall system that uses low E glass with argon gas, a feature that can be as much as three times more energy efficient than standard single-glazed glass. 

The building’s location in the University of Maryland BioPark builds on the existing community of scientists engaged in areas of discovery, teaching and medical treatment. Its close proximity to the medical campus of the University of Maryland Baltimore enhances a partnership the OCME has with regional medical schools.

“The increased laboratory space and 21st Century technology of our new facility will enhance the learning experience and training of forensic pathologists, said Dr. David R. Fowler, Maryland’s chief medical examiner.  “The OCME is a major training institution for forensic pathologists and is the only source of accredited training for all Maryland and D.C. medical school pathology residents.”

Completed in August 2010, the structure is one of the largest standalone medical examiner facilities in the nation.  In comparison to the OCME building on Penn St. that opened in 1968, the Center has more autopsy rooms, higher bio-safety levels and enhanced storage capacity.  It also has the latest technology available to forensic pathologists, including a Computed Tomography (CT) scanner to conduct virtual autopsies.

The new building includes two bio-safety Level 2 autopsy rooms with a capacity of eight stations per room.  It also has three two-station autopsy rooms designed with negative pressure consistent with the technology of a bio-safety Level 3 laboratory. Included in the new facility are variable speed controllers on all fans and pumps, night set-back operations on all HVAC systems, use of high efficiency air-cooled chillers, sensors to turn off lights in unoccupied spaces, and water conservation measures on all plumbing fixtures.

The new Center will enable the OCME to conduct on average twice as many autopsies per day.  OCME currently conducts approximately 11 autopsies a day and more than 4,000 a year, in a building designed to perform a maximum of 2,000 a year. 

Realizing that quite often it is difficult for families to accept that a loved one needs to be autopsied, state officials have designed this new facility so that the procedures are conducted in a way that is respectful to the deceased. In addition, a separate area allows family and friends to visit a deceased loved one and observe their religious beliefs in private.

“This building is about people – people who have a need to be here and the people who care for them,” said Dr. Fowler.  “It insures that all who pass through here can be treated with the utmost care and dignity, and that we can meet as many cultural and religious beliefs as possible.”

The contractor for the six-story, 120,000 square-foot facility is Gilbane Building Company, a nationwide business that has its Mid-Atlantic regional headquarters in Laurel.  The design for the building was created by the joint venture of Gaudreau Incorporated/McClaren, Wilson and Lawrie. DGS managed the construction project.

“This capital project supported 500 jobs with salaries totaling $18 million,” Secretary Collins added.  Additionally, Gilbane exceeded its 25 percent minority business enterprise commitment by awarding 33 percent of the project work to certified minority firms.”

OCME is responsible for the investigation of all deaths in Maryland that occur by violence, suicide, casualty or any other suspicious or unusual manner; and any sudden death if unattended by a physician or if the deceased previously was in apparent good health.

For more information, visit OCME.


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