I called the office of the Volusia County Medical Examiner this morning since I did not hear from anyone there yesterday. 1 I asked for Bob Burch and was told that he has the day off today. I asked for Dr. Hermann and the person who had answered the phone asked me, “What case is this regarding?”
I said that I was calling about Kathleen Gagne, who died on Sunday and that I was still waiting to hear if they were going to perform an autopsy. I was put on hold.
A minute later Chris Boden came on the line. He said that, “doctors reviewed her medical records. They have reviewed them extensively, and determined that it’s not a medical examiner case.”
I asked how they came to that decision, and Chris said that they reviewed all the records 2, and that it, “appears to be a natural death.” He then gave me a long and complicated medical explanation which I asked him to repeat slowly so I could transcribe it, because he said it so quickly. Here is the quote:
After review of records, findings support fatal cardiac arrhythmia secondary to accelerated cardiac ventricular response; contributing to the cause of death is myocardial ischemia due to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
We talked for a long while 3 about how I considered it absurd that someone would be discharged from Halifax Hospital four times in the last nine months — with doctors telling me that she has no health issues, that she’s perfectly fine physically, that she’s actually very healthy and simply has some psychological problems — the most recent discharge being just thirty-six hours before her heart attack — and simultaneously just been prescribed a dramatically dangerous drug — for a condition nobody ever suggested she had by a doctor who saw her only one time — known to cause heart attacks in elderly individuals and they could claim she died of natural causes.
I asked him what my next step should be and Chris suggested that I could have a private autopsy done and the funeral home holding my mother’s body could help me arrange one.
I asked him what his next step was going to be and he said he was going to contact Dr. Peele to tell him that “it’s not a medical examiner case, so that puts it back in his hands to take care of.”
I asked Chris exactly what determines whether the medical examiner performs an autopsy and he said there were very specific guidelines. I asked him if these guidelines were public and he said, “Oh, yes. Florida Statute 406 determines,” when they need to do an autopsy.
I asked him if he would be kind enough to call me after he spoke with Dr. Peele, since Dr. Peele had already told me that he was refusing to sign the death certificate because he wanted an autopsy performed. Chris told me that he would. I asked him if he was just saying that or if he really would, and he told me I had his word that he would call me.
I asked Chris what his last name was and he said it was Boden. I thanked him and said goodbye.
1 recall that on August 14th Bob Burch told me that this would all be resolved by the afternoon of the 15th
2 Yes, he noted that the “records” had been “reviewed” three times in about ten seconds.
3 The entire call lasted twenty-four minutes.