Feb. 8, 2021 - Montgomery County Coroner, Dr. Kent Harshbarger, gave Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge and Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert, a tour of the morgue following construction and a technology upgrade to the facility.
The Coroner’s Office received a new LODOX machine, which provides full-body, high-speed digital radiology to the Coroner and his staff. The LODOX replaces a traditional X-ray machine, that required technicians to manipulate the bodies several times to get multiple, radiological images. The new technology only requires the body to be placed on a tray and the machine does the rest, conducting a full body scan in about 13 seconds.
“Dr. Harshbarger and his staff work so hard, not only supporting Montgomery County, but nearly 40 other counties right here in this area of the state of Ohio,” said Commissioner Dodge. “We were happy to fund this project because we know the importance of what the Coroner and Crime Lab staff does in our community.”
The LODOX cost $445,000, which the Coroner’s Office was able to fund entirely with money received from other counties in return for services provided. “We are a big regional center, so we actually charge for our services and this allows us to put more of that work through,” said Dr. Harshbarger. “So, we’re actually bringing in more income to Montgomery County, offsetting other expenses.”
However, the building was not able to house the LODOX without a facility upgrade because of the size and weight of the unit. So, Montgomery County funded the construction costs which came to $159,580.
Bill Epperson, the Montgomery County Project Manager for the construction effort, said it took a great team of both general contractors from Arcon Builders and electricians from Saturn Electric to get the job done, despite some setbacks, one of which was the massive size of the machine. “The LODOX could not fit through the planned path, even though the information provided said it should have. The LODOX vendor was responsible for disassembling the X-ray unit and re-assembling and calibrating it. This added extra time to complete the project.”
The Coroner believes it was worth the wait and having the capability to increase the number of bodies scanned, is a good investment for the County; it will continue to generate revenue from outside County clients, provide better imagery for use during court proceedings which could lessen court costs, and provide a more accurate and detailed assessment for families of decedents.
“One of the advantages of this machine is that we would only x-ray certain cases,” said Dr. Harshbarger. “So, we would X-ray gunshot wounds to find the bullet, we would X-ray knife wounds to see if there’s a knife tip…those kinds of things. With this machine we X-ray everybody.”
Besides the new X-ray machine, the Coroner also recently received a CT scanner and a trailer to house it. The scanner sits within the trailer at the rear of the Coroner’s Office, providing a safer environment to conduct the scans since it’s outside the building. Additionally, because it is within a trailer, it is portable should it ever be needed for use at a mass casualty site in other areas of the state. The CT scanner and trailer cost $224,900.
“This is a significant investment,” said Administrator Colbert. “We know that this technology upgrade will enhance workflow and be safer for the Coroner’s staff, so they aren’t continually having to lift and shift decedents during X-rays. The Coroner and his team do a fantastic job serving Montgomery County and the Commissioners were happy to be able to do this for him and his team.”