Miami County’s coroner saw a “remarkable” increase in contacts for deaths in January when a 33 percent increase in the average month numbers was recorded.

William Ginn, MD, who handled 32 deaths in 31 days, said he notified the county commissioners of the activity because of the possible need for more appropriations as the year progresses.

Ginn, contacted following the county commission’s brief comments on the coroner’s activities, said he cannot point to any one reason for the increase. He did, however, acknowledge an increase in drug overdose deaths during the past year.

“I realize that this may be a glitch, and not a trend, however I felt the commissioners needed that information for possible budget planning,” Ginn said.

He noted the budget for autopsies and, the impact of an increased number needed in January. “If the rate of continues like it did in January, we are on pace to grossly exceed the budget for them,” Ginn said.

Each case is evaluated on its merits and needs in determining if an autopsy will be requested, he said. Of the cases in January, 11 were sent for autopsy.

The county’s autopsies are conducted under contract with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Two price increases were experienced in 2016 due to the need for staffing to handle the increase in deaths/autopsies that office is seeing, Ginn said.

The commissioners’ brief comments came in approving the annual contract for transport of bodies to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. The contract is for a maximum of $10,000. Ginn said the price for transport from Cron Mortuary Services of Fletcher has not increased but more runs would add to overall costs.

Leigh Williams, the commissioners’ clerk/administrative assistant, told commissioners Feb. 2 the county would need to monitor the coroner appropriations. She noted the autopsy account and “the high numbers we paid in January.”

The commissioners approved $234,137 in appropriations for the coroner's office this year. The office spent $164,728 last year.

Coroner’s statistics for 2016 showed 250 deaths in the county. Of those, 45 were listed as accidental (drugs/motor vehicle/gunshot/hanging). Twenty of the accidental deaths were listed due to drug/substance with six attributed to fentanyl alone; six to fentanyl with other; four to heroin; and one each to hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and methamphetamine.