After Friday, the forensics toxicology lab at Albany Medical Center will cease to exist. What’s more, the hospital has also announced the increase of prices on its morgue services.
This price hike directly affects counties like Rensselaer which contract those services from the hospital. County lawmakers say the price for autopsies has more than doubled, and they didn’t’t get the notice from Albany Med until after the county budget was finalized.
“We hope that our leaders in Albany will be able to come up with a solution to provide some sort of relief,” said Kate Better, director of intergovernmental service for Rensselaer County.
“We’d like to see the governor step in and the region as a whole get together and have one centralized location,” said Rensselaer County Legislature Chairman Michael Stammel.
A centralized morgue is one solution, but would be several years off. State lawmakers like Assemblyman John McDonald say even though county budgets are in the final stages, the state budget process is just beginning.
“Let’s find out what those costs are. Let’s find out what the financial impact is. And let’s work together to find a process where we can offset or limit that cost,” said McDonald.
In a statement Albany Medical Center said:
“As the region’s only academic medical center, Albany Med provides our communities with unique expertise and services in numerous clinical areas. The morgue is a facility on the Albany Med campus that performs autopsies on behalf of coroners throughout the region. Historically, Albany Med has provided service for a reasonable fee to the counties, but well below our costs. As part of our budgeting for 2019, we raised the fee for autopsy services to create better alignment with our cost.”
The State Department of Health responded in a statement:
“The Department is aware of NYSAC’s request for additional funding and is taking it into consideration as part of ongoing budget discussions. In the meantime, we’ll continue work closely with counties in support of all programs to combat the serious public health concerns raised by the opioid epidemic.”
The Rensselaer County Legislature plans to pass a resolution on this matter on December 11.