The facilities that house the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which performs autopsies, is set to double in size after plans for a new facility were approved by Augusta officials this week.
The Augusta Planning Board unanimously voted to approve plans for a new 19,000-square-foot facility on Hospital Street that will allow the medical examiner’s office to meet national standards, the Kennebec Journal reported.
The new facility will also provide much-needed space to perform autopsies, as the rate of homicides continues to rise throughout the state. Maine is on track to see a record number of homicides in 2022, with homicide investigations underway in more than half of the state’s counties.
Currently, the state performs around 300 autopsies a year.
The new medical examiner’s building is expected to feature an autopsy isolation room, an expanded autopsy theater and more refrigerated storage space. Having an autopsy isolation room, where the procedure can be done away from other activities, is a national standard, according to the Kennebec Journal.
The medical examiner’s office also sees the need for upgrades due to a recent increase in population. With the largest population influx in two decades, officials note that the current facility is not suited to handle an increased workload.
Construction on the new facility is expected to be completed by 2024.