Say Hello to Your New ME

Commissioners vote to hire Dr. David Dolinak as county's third-ever medical examiner

During a special voting session July 5 – called, as Travis Co. Judge Sam Biscoe put it, to handle two "sort of emergency items," – county commissioners voted unanimously to hire Dr. David Dolinak as the county's third-ever medical examiner. Dolinak, 38, will take over the helm in mid-August, relieving veteran ME Roberto Bayardo, who has been with the county since 1977 and who handed in notice of his retirement this spring. Commissioners agreed to pay Dolinak $250,000 per year, and authorized $7,500 in moving expenses for him to relocate to Austin from Cleveland, where he's been working as a pathologist in the Cuyahoga Co. Coroner's Office. Dolinak also served as a deputy chief ME in Dallas Co. from 2001-2004, where he was also an assistant professor of pathology at the UT Southwest Medical School.

Dolinak will take over during a particularly rough time for the Travis Co. Medical Examiner's Office. Indeed, until the county is able to hire more doctors, Dolinak will be its only full-time ME, since the only other pathologists, Drs. Elizabeth Peacock and Suzanna Dana, both resigned (although Dana is doing some part-time contract work for the office). The lack of staff has led to increasing workloads, far in excess of the maximum required by the National Association of Medical Examiners – by whom the county hopes eventually to have the office accredited – and, some say, to an increased number of mistakes, such as the misidentification in 2004 of the remains of an 85-year-old woman as those of a 23-year-old man. (For more, see "CSI: Travis County," June 30.)

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Travis County Medical Examiner's Office, TCME, Roberto Bayardo, Suzanna Dana, Elizabeth Peacock, Travis Co. Commissioner's Court, Sam Biscoe, David Dolinak, National Association of Medical Examiners, NAME, Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, University of Texas Southwest Medical School Dallas

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