Lifebanc may occupy Mahoning County's Oakhill space
By Peter H. Milliken
Two Mahoning County commissioners say they support establishment of a Lifebanc tissue-recovery center in the basement of Oakhill Renaissance Place adjacent to the county coroner’s autopsy suite.
“I’ve known some people who’ve been recipients [of transplants] because of Lifebanc, so I feel this is very important. I feel the Oakhill facility would more than assist in what you would like to do here. I do support this happening at that facility,” Commissioner Anthony Traficanti told Lifebanc representatives during a Thursday staff meeting.
“We want you there because what you do for other people is unbelievable,” Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairwoman of the commissioners, told the Lifebanc representatives.
“Lifebanc represents modern medicine — 21st century medicine, which includes everything from in-utero to after you die, and this is important for our community. This is good for our community in so many ways,” said Dr. Joseph Ohr, deputy county coroner and forensic pathologist.
In the past three years, Lifebanc has recovered tissue from at least 150 donors referred to it by Dr. Ohr’s office, said GinaMarie Garchar of Struthers, Lifebanc’s hospital services coordinator.
The 2,000- to 2,200-square-foot Oakhill suite would be used to recover tissues and eyes from coroner’s and noncoroner’s cadavers for transplantation. Bones, skin, nerves and blood vessels would be recovered there.
Having the center here would eliminate the cost of transporting donors from the local hospitals where they die to Lifebanc’s Cleveland recovery center, and it would make more tissue available faster for local recipients and reduce the risk of tissues perishing before they can be recovered, she said.
Dr. Ohr said advantages of having Lifebanc at Oakhill include enabling him to examine bodies before tissue recovery occurs to improve the quality and thoroughness of his examination and allowing faster release of bodies to funeral homes.
“The county cannot go out for debt for it. We cannot issue bonds,” for renovations for a nonprofit organization, said Audrey Tillis, county budget director. She said, however, the commissioners can temporarily reduce the lease cost “to help them support any issuance of debt that they would have to do in order to renovate the space.”
Tillis added, “They would have to pay the cost or get a grant or something to pay for the cost of the construction or the renovation for that space.”
Tracie Kaglic, Oakhill project coordinator with Olsavsky-Jaminet architects, estimated Lifebanc’s renovation and equipment costs between $635,000 and $685,000.
In their regular board meeting, the commissioners approved a three-year labor agreement retroactive to July 1, which covers 220 sheriff’s department employees represented by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141.
The agreement, ratified previously by the employees, includes no pay raises for the first year and makes pay scales for the remainder of the contract subject to wage reopener negotiations. It ends, however, many concessions deputies took to keep the county jail open during recent low-revenue recession years, by restoring things such as longevity and hazardous-duty pay and uniform allowances.
Annual pay ranges from $27,248 for entry-level deputies to $44,970 for the highest-paid deputies. A captain belonging to the FOP’s gold unit earns $70,678 annually.