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Nueces County closer to hiring new chief ME

Nueces County medical examiner's office.jpg
Posted at 1:23 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 21:31:21-04

The Nueces County Commissioners Court has taken the first step in replacing Dr. Adel Shaker as chief medical examiner.

Dr. Timothy Fagen, who was offered the job in April and turned it down, has reconsidered the offer.

His counteroffer includes increasing the chief medical examiner's base salary to $500,000, which would make him the highest-paid medical examiner in Texas.

The court is expected to vote to officially accept Fagen's terms Wednesday. He would begin July 18.

His counteroffer also will require the county to also hire a deputy chief medical examiner at a base salary of $375,000, and a deputy medical examiner at $335,000.

During the meeting, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said a timeline will be put in place for hiring the third position.

It also asks that Dr. Ray Fernandez, who is currently acting as interim chief medical examiner, stay on part-time with the office.

It also requires a third party to finish autopsies left undone by Shaker and previous chief deputy medical examiner Dr. Sandra Lyden.

The contract also lays out a plan for the implementation of continuing education, including conferences.

Pct. 3 county commissioner John Marez told KRIS 6 News on Thursday that Fagen was very precise in the change he looks to bring to the embattled medical examiner's office, including hiring adequate staff numbers, staff with proper training and qualifications, and the purchase of up-to-date morgue equipment.

Marez said the market is a competitive one, and agreeing to Fagen's stipulations will go a long way toward bringing stability to the medical examiner's office and reestablishing trust.

"It’s a very competitive market and so to bring stability — to bring someone who I have trust in, and will be able to do the job and bring us into modern times and to re-establish confidence and — I think that’s what people want," he said.

Commissioners also agreed to immediately make aesthetic upgrades to the ME's office such as new carpeting and paint, and broken and rusted equipment will be replaced.

They also are considering investing anywhere from $5 million-$7 million into the existing medical examiner's office on Hospital Boulevard. Upgrades would be made to the existing building, and an addition to the existing facility would also be built in lieu of spending $30 million on a new facility, as was originally planned.

This is a developing story. Check back with KRIS 6 News for updates.