Dr. Michael Markey said he did not originally plan on getting into forensic pathology, but had his interest piqued while watching a medical examiner pry open a body during a class autopsy.
“We were required to view autopsies,” he said. “The death process fascinated me. By the time I got near the end of my medical education, the autopsy and death investigation, I found the puzzle of why people died was most interesting to me.”
He’s has been in the forensic pathology game ever since.
Markey, a forensic pathologist with Sparrow Heath Center, was named the official medical examiner of Isabella County with three deputy examiners to fill in when necessary. Markey said he’s ready for the endeavor with the new Isabella County contract.
“Sparrow Forensic Pathology provides professional, responsive and respectful services to 16 other Michigan counties,” said Margaret McAvoy, Isabella County Administrator, in a report released to the City of Mount Pleasant in December. “They are experienced in serving as county medical examiners and will provide forensic pathologists who are specially trained to work as medical examiners and perform autopsies.”
For almost 18 years, Dr. Elmer Shurlow served as the medical examiner for Isabella County. In December 2013, Shurlow handed in his letter of retirement.
“We certainly are thankful and respectful of Dr. Shurlow,” McAvoy said. “Isabella County is very grateful to Dr. Shurlow. This gave us the opportunity to look for others, though.”
McAvoy said the contract with Sparrow Forensic Pathology would be financially similar to Dr. Shurlow’s.
A Sparrow Forensic Pathology cost projection indicated that pathologists there can serve as medical examiners and provide autopsies for $123,000, McAvoy told commissioners in the December report.
Markey said he’s ready to add the county to his rounds.
“There is going to be a transition,” Markey said. “Dr. Shurlow has quite diligently served the county. There’s probably going to be a bit of a change.”
The group will be taking on cases that are reported to them, sending a member of the group to the county to correspond with the rest of the medical examiners.
“We soon will have investigators in the county that will respond to deaths that are non-natural to gather info from family, health care providers, police and others,” Markey said. “They will relay the info back to us. Myself or one of the other deputies will respond if necessary.”
When an autopsy is necessary, bodies are transported to Lansing by Mobile Medical Response.
“As the medical examiner, the duties include postmortem exams,” Markey said. “These can include investigating drug overdoses, car crashes, infant deaths, sudden death in young people, issuing death certificates and whatnot.”
Sparrow Forensic Pathology serves as medical examiner for Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Livingston, Montcalm, Muskeon and Shiawasee counties.
Sparrow Health also provides forensic pathology consultants for Calhoun, Clinton, Crawford, Gratiot, Roscommon, VanBuren and Wexford counties.