Coroner's office could move to York County Prison by early 2020

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, June 29, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The York County Coroner's Office could have a new home at the county jail by early 2020.

Renovations to retrofit a vacant prison dormitory into an office space would cost about $670,000 and should take about six months to complete, said John McCoy, facilities manager at York County Prison.

The new office space would be the first of two phases in a project to move all of the coroner's operations to the prison. The second phase would be to build a morgue.

"It’s been kicked down the road for quite a while, and we’re appreciative of the commissioners finally moving and acting," said York County Coroner Pam Gay.

Per direction from the prison board, McCoy will prepare construction contracts for the county commissioners to approve at an upcoming meeting.

The commissioners will likely take up the contracts for a vote in early August, said York County Commissioner Doug Hoke.

Lobar Associates, based in Dillsburg, is the general contractor.

The coroner's office is one of several agencies housed in the Pleasant Acres annex building, which the county sold, along with Pleasant Acres Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in 2018.

The county now rents the annex from Premier Healthcare Management, the new owner.

Gay has been vocal over the years about the need for the county to have its own morgue because of capacity issues, but the office space at the annex is also inadequate, she said.

"Our part-timers come in and there’s not a whole lot of places where they can work," she said. "We have volunteers, (and) we have to send them to our little conference area, which is also storage."

The office at the annex is cramped, and there haven't been any major renovations since the coroner's office moved there about 20 years ago, Gay said.

Hoke said the commissioners hope to move the annex agencies into new homes by the end of the year or soon after.

As for the morgue, York Hospital has been sharing its own small morgue with the coroner's office for decades at no cost to the county, but there's only enough room for eight or nine bodies at a time, and Gay said the morgue regularly reaches or exceeds its capacity.

In the past couple of months, she's taken to Twitter to notify the public every time the morgue runs out of space.

The prison board will consider phase two, the new morgue, at a later date, Hoke said.

Renovating the office will take about six months to complete, McCoy said, and the coroner's staff should be able to move into the space in early 2020.

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