Mar 30, 2010 3:32 AM by John Romero

El Paso county buildings not making the grade

The latest financial report from El Paso county shows the county did slightly better than expected on the operational side of things. But when it comes to some aging buildings, the news isn't as positive. "Anytime we try to do anything proactive it could cost us a lot more money than what really it's worth." says Mike Barry, the Facilities Manager at the El Paso County Health Department.

The health department's buildings have been around since the 60's. Problems with the boiler and HVAC systems have been costly. "Our boiler overheated and sent temperatures rising internally to 120 degrees." explains Barry, "That pretty much caused some of our medications and our vaccines to fail." That's $47,000 dollars worth of vaccine destroyed, which ultimately comes back to the taxpayers.

Over at the coroner's office, an aging building with little space, autopsies have tripled since the 80's. "It's a space issue as well as a function issue." says Associate Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly, "We don't have the facility that's built to handle the workload that we're dealing with now." New rules mean vital organs must be kept for up to 3-years with homicide cases being held indefinitely. There's just not enough space for everything. Hundreds of containers are in the garage, where temperatures regularly fluctuate, causing some to explode. With an inspection coming up, the coroner's office is worried. "Based on what we have now and the facilities we have now, we will lose accreditation in 2013." explains Dr. Kelly.

While each office struggles to adapt to their own building problems, they do share similar thoughts. "The building itself has met its need and now it's time to move on." says Barry. Dr. Kelly agrees, "You're doing autopsies in a very overcrowded, sinking ship."



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