Forensic nurse Pam Gay was sworn in as the new York County Coroner Monday, replacing the retiring Barry Bloss after he spent 16 years in the position investigating sudden and suspicious deaths.
Gay said Bloss left the office with a sound foundation upon which she'll build, and the first order of business is to order and install new software to update technology in the office. She also plans to launch a new website to engage the community and provide resources, such as forms that might otherwise require a visit to the coroner's office, she said.
Gay said she's keeping all of the existing staff in the office, including Deputy Coroner Steve Cosey, who lost to her in the Republican primary despite receiving an endorsement from Bloss.
She also plans to hire Onalee Gilbert, a 15-year veteran of the coroner's office whose employment as a deputy was terminated shortly after she also lost her campaign against Gay. A reason for the dismissal was never made public.
Gay said it won't be unusual to work side by side with those who were once political opponents, as she likes everyone in the coroner's office and can learn a lot from the longtime staff members.
A Springettsbury Township resident, Gay has been a forensic nurse for 12 years and also owns and operates Susquehanna Valley Medical Legal Consulting, through which she reviews charts and goes through records to condense them into briefs used in medical legal cases, she said.
Gay said her plans for her new office also include create a group of "care and compassion" volunteers, people who are trained to accompany coroners when families are notified about deaths, staying with family members and helping them make phone calls and connect them with services they might need.
She also plans to increase education about sexual assault, elder abuse, domestic violence, and suicide, she said.
Coroners serve 4-year terms. The position pays about $78,000 per year.
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