GENEVA – The Kane County Coroner’s Office was recommended for re-accreditation by auditors of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners for its investigative practices, morgue facilities, laboratory service, forensic specialists and medicolegal practices.
When the office met accreditation standards in 2014, Coroner Rob Russell had said it was the first coroner’s office in the state to do so. Accreditation is for five years, Russell said.
“This is our re-accreditation. This is especially impressive, as it was performed during a global pandemic,” Russell said.
“We are maintaining the standards and they added a few areas. We’re a little sharper this time,” Russell said. “It’s a lot of work. I had one person who was kind of the point for it – Jeff Christiansen – who was in charge of making sure we were in compliance with all the different standards, 400 or so. We were 100% in compliance with all of them.”
The association's auditor noted that Russell's office conducted over 3,200 death investigations in 2018 and 2019.
“And as you know, investigations are becoming more involved which require additional manpower and resources,” the letter stated. “It is recommended that you consider increasing your staff by adding (two to three) more full time deputy coroners. Without adding these positions, your staff will experience burnout and you’ll be faced with unwanted employee turnover.”
The letter also stated that additional staffing would assist the Coroner’s Office when other employees are out for illness, vacations or training.
According to the notification letter, the association's auditors met with three community partners – Sheriff Ron Hain, County Board member Anita Lewis, D-Aurora and Dennis Malone funeral director of Malone Funeral Home in St. Charles.
Hain told the auditor he and his staff “have a great working relationship with your office,” according to the auditor’s accreditation letter.
“Sheriff Hain stated that Chief Deputy (Coroner) Loren Carrera is very thorough and ‘runs a tight ship.’ He was quite complimentary with everyone in your office and stated how honorable it is that your staff puts their decedent’s families first during difficult times,” the letter stated.
Lewis also praised Russell and his office to the auditors, the letter stated.
“Words cannot express the respect she has for you and your staff. Ms. Lewis spoke very highly of you and staff for the professionalism, care and respect you have for the families you work with,” according to the letter.
“She is proud that the county is building you a state-of-the-art forensic facility that will met your office’s needs, as well as outreach projects you and your staff work on,” the letter stated. “Ms. Lewis commented, ‘Rob is too humble of a man. This is quite a trait only a few have. Job well done!’”
Malone, who works with Russell and his staff on a regular basis, also “spoke very highly of the office and commended them for the work they do with decedent’s families.”
“Everyone in the office goes above and beyond to make sure families are taken care of,” Malone stated in the letter. “There has never been a problem dealing with the next of kin. Mr. Malone praised the county for providing the coroner’s office with a new spacious and functional forensic center. This facility has been long overdue.”
Construction began in the spring on the new $11.6 million multi-purpose building, which will house the new Coroner's Office and morgue. The formal groundbreaking was sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic until this week, however.
Russell said they expect to be in the new building by next April.
Russell also credited State Senators Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove and Don DeWitte, R-St. Charles, with procuring about $750,000 in state funds towards the project.
“I’m very grateful to the both of them,” Russell said.
The accreditation certificate will be presented to the Coroner’s Office at the 2021 summer training conference.