Sparrow and Ingham County spar over medical examiner payments

MASON, Mich (WLNS) – Sparrow Hospital serves as medical examiner for eight counties in mid-Michigan but officials say it’s been operating on a half-million dollar deficit for years.

Now Sparrow wants a new deal and they’re asking for a big raise.

Sparrow officials made their pitch to Ingham County commissioners Monday night.

This all boils down to the tax-payers bottom line.

Commissioners say there is no money in the budget to be paying out more than $280,000 for medical examiner services.

But both the county and Sparrow say they enjoy working together so there are really only a couple of options and the county has 60 days to find a solution.

Sparrow Hospital has been serving as Ingham County’s medical examiner for several years.

According to the hospital’s annual medical examiner’s report for 2016 it investigated nearly 700 deaths in the county and completed more than 280 autopsies.

But that soon could change if the two parties don’t come to an agreement soon..

“It’s unfortunate that Sparrow is not able to provide the service at the agreed upon rate,” said Todd Tennis of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.

The most recent contract Sparrow had with Ingham County included a 10 percent annual increase in order to make up for lost revenue over the years.

But the hospital is looking to increase that amount, which would cost the county about $280,000 more than it does now.

So when it’s all said and done it could cost the county nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to continue working with Sparrow, leaving the county with a couple of options to explore.

“We feel that it’s necessary to put this out to bid..and see if there are other vendors..there’s not a huge amount of them in Michigan..but if there are other organizations that can do it more efficiently and for lower cost.”

Sparrow would not comment on whether it would work with the county to accommodate both parties but did release the following statement saying:

Sparrow forensic pathology has been honored to serve as the Ingham County medical examiner’s office and is interested in continuing to provide those services…
however due to the financial climate in healthcare–
we are unable to continue in that role at the current pricing.

Again, the county has until the first week of August to make a decision on what it will do.

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