Marion County coroner defends office after audit

Marion County Coroner Dr. LeeAndra Stone
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - The Marion County coroner is speaking out about findings from the Marion County Auditor's Office that put her department in a bad light.

“We have been so busy with so many death investigations,” said Dr. LeeAndrea Sloan, “that I have had little time to focus on fixing the administrative side.”

Dr. Sloan took over the coroner's office serving the municipalities in Marion County in 2017 after winning the election. She responded to the audit in writing, which is not officially part of the auditor's final report. In her response, Sloan even states Indiana Code to defend what goes on in the office, especially when it comes to personal property they recover.

“At the end of the day, we need an audit so we will know what we are not doing well," Sloan said.

As coroner, Sloan admits their work is cut out for them based on their last audit. They've reportedly have addressed more than half of the issues.

One of the findings in the audit cites Sloan not turning over money recovered from the deceased and giving to the county treasurer. Sloan defended not doing so, saying Indiana Code cites that it goes to next of kin they list in their paperwork along with personal property they document. The auditor also referred to how they keep records of personal property.

“It's on paper,” said Sloan. “The audit would like us to upgrade to, like, a software system."

Another violation listed in the audit is not documenting employee drivers' licenses and insurance. But the coroner’s office had been operating on treating their county's own fleet like that of law enforcement, despite recent changes in policy that got by her office, for which she takes full responsibility.

Sloan attributes record death investigations that have left them overworked and underpaid. The organization that accredits their office recommends about 40 employees for coroner offices that perform more than 1,000 autopsies a year, according to Sloan. Currently, she has only 22 staff members after operating most of the year with only 19 employees.

“We have half of the people that is recommended and we have doubled the case load in the past two years and our budget is still the same,” said Sloan, “I am simply going to do the ask and see if we get the financial support we need from enterprise.”

Despite the bad audit, the coroner's office insists one thing that hasn't changed is the care they try to give to each family they serve in and outside of Marion County. After experiencing death in her own family, Sloan purposely makes it a practice to extend care.

“Every decedent that comes in, we handle with reverence and dignity," she said.

In January 2020, the coroner office plans to do an overhaul on its more than 1,000 practices and procedures. Sloan also plans to submit requests in the budget for more staff, upgraded operational systems and more.

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