ROCHESTER (WXXI) - At a time when opioid abuse is on the rise, officials say there's a growing need for forensic pathologists, or Medical Examiners. Senator Charles Schumer was at the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office Thursday to announce his support for a fellowship program that will train University of Rochester doctoral residents to become M.E.'s.
He says there are only 500 M.E.'s in the country, and this is one way address a nationwide shortage.
"A shortage of M.E.'s causes delays of weeks, months before toxicology reports are completed by the M.E. That puts a crimp on the police investigating crimes, it slows down the prosecutors’ offices that are prosecuting cases, and it also hurts the families seeking closure."
Schumer says he wants to make Rochester the center of training new Medical Examiners throughout the country.
Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. Nadia Granger says this fellowship program will allow for someone to spend a year with her office.
“With the shortage that we have in upstate New York, with the number of pathologists that we have here, it will be a great pipeline to keep that flow of knowledge in forensic pathology and medical examiner's into our neck of the woods."
Schumer is asking the Department of Justice to support and expand the program, and use Rochester as a model to expand it across the country.
He also is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to make pathologists eligible for a medical school loan forgiveness program.
Schumer calls the opioid crisis a federal problem.