Office of the Medical Examiner
Phone: (616) 632-7247
Fax: (616) 632-7088
Medical Exchange: (616) 317-3939 (to report a death)
Stephen D. Cohle, MD, Chief Medical Examiner
David A. Start, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner
The Office of the Medical Examiner is mandated by law under Act 181, P.A. 1953, as amended, to investigate certain types of death. These deaths include sudden and unexpected deaths, accidental deaths, violent deaths, and deaths of children 18 and under without significant medical history. The Medical Examiner has the authority under Public Act 181, P.A. 1953, as amended and the Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368 of 1978, to order an autopsy to determine or confirm the cause and manner of death.
The Kent County Board of Commissioners appoints the county medical examiner, who must be a licensed physician, to hold office for a period of 4 years. Every 4 years, the position is reviewed by the board of commissioners.
The Kent County Board of Commissioners appoints a deputy county medical examiner, who must be a licensed physician, and approved by the county medical examiner.
The county medical examiner appoints medical examiner investigators who are responsible for gathering information, taking charge of the deceased person, and arranging for transport to the morgue facility for further postmortem examination as necessary.
The Office of the Medical Examiner is responsible for the issuance of death certificates for all deaths within the jurisdiction of the medical examiner. All cremation permits must also be authorized and issued by the Office of the Medical Examiner. Applications for cremation permits may be submitted by fax.
The Office of the Medical Examiner permanently maintains records (medical examiner’s case report and autopsy report, if ordered) pertaining to medical examiner deaths that were investigated in Kent County. For information regarding obtaining a copy of these reports, call the administrative office during normal business hours, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
Job opportunities for the Medical Examiner's Office can be found by visiting the county's employment opportunities page.
Child Loss Support
Families who have lost a child under age eighteen.
This program provides bereavement counseling, education, and support to families of a child who has died. Home visits and support group meetings offer education, bereavement counseling, and advocacy for family members.