Scheduling change may alleviate odors

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A foul odor and disruption in the Oakhill Renaissance Place building where county offices are located may force officials to look at a change in the times certain autopsies are performed.

Robert Bush, newly appointed director of the Department of Job and Family Services, told county commissioners in a meeting Monday morning that several JFS employees used sick time to go home on two different dates last week. The employees reportedly were overcome with a pungent smell that permeated the building.

The Mahoning County Coroner’s office is located inside the building on Oak Hill Avenue on the South Side along with the JFS offices. Bush told commissioners the smell is believed to have come from an autopsy being performed in the coroner’s office.

A call to Coroner Dr. David Kennedy had not been returned as of late Monday afternoon.

Bush explained to commissioners that once a human body begins to decay, at least 24 to 32 hours after being deceased, it can at that point begin to let off a foul odor. He said the coroner’s office handles several such autopsies a year.

Autopsies on Tuesday and Thursday of last week left such an odor inside the Oakhill building, and several employees requested to leave the facility and go home. Bush said about seven employees made the request on each day.

George J. Tablack, county administrator, said construction in the building also may have played a part in the smell moving to various parts of the building. He said there was construction work being done to a common wall dividing the coroner’s office and JFS offices.

“It is truly an anomaly that this happened. No one supports this situation for our employees. We will work with the coroner to help him with the situation,” Tablack said.

Bush said the coroner is looking at conducting autopsies where smell might be a problem after 3 p.m. when there are fewer people in the building. He said problems with smell from the coroner’s office in the building have happened only one other time since JFS has occupied the building.

“They are going to try and do this in the evening when there is less likely to be a problem,” Bush said. “There were 20 homicides last year, and all had autopsies, so this is not a problem. It’s more of an anomaly that this would happen.”

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