Morgue employees cite lax management

January 27, 2012 8:43:23 PM PST
As bodies remain piled up at the overcrowded Cook County morgue, the crisis at the medical examiner's office is not just one of human remains.

In this Intelligence Report: Morgue employees say they have run out of essential supplies and blame a lax management.

There are two top people at the Cook County morgue: Dr. Nancy Jones, the medical examiner, who handles autopsies, causes of death, and the science of the office. Then there is Kimberly Jackson, the executive officer, business manager and top administrator; she is not a doctor is responsible for overseeing everything other than the scientific work on the bodies.

In this report, the I-Team looks at Jackson's role in the crisis at the morgue.

New photos from inside the Cook County morgue are not of bodies but of brand new autopsy tables. Employees say the wrong size tables were ordered and cannot be used, but also cannot be returned to the company that made them, wasting thousands of tax dollars the county does not have.

Morgue employees say that is typical of the uninformed management by the second highest ranking official in the medical examiner's office, Kimberly Jackson, who had no previous experience managing such a facility.

Jackson is a 1999 graduate of Saint Ignatius high school in Chicago, 2003 from Spelman College, and just three years ago she obtained her MBA from Kellogg before she was hired to manage the Cook County medical examiner's office, hired by then-county president Todd Stroger, who is said to have been a friend of her family.

It was shortly after Jackson's hiring that sources say supplies began running short, from scalpels to copy paper, and bodies began piling up in the cooler.

Some employees say Jackson's work outside her $110,000 a year job at the morgue spread her too thin. She is associated with Mandell United Methodist Church as a choreographer, vice president of worship and a choir director. According to e-mails to choir members, she spends countless hours a week as choir director, some during business hours. Her husband is the pastor of the West Side church. Neither of them returned the I-Team's phone calls Friday.

The church was also conspicuously absent from Friday's protest at the morgue by a group of Chicago ministers who were demanding a role in the reorganization of the medical examiner's office.

Before being hired as the medical examiner's top business administrator, Jackson did work for a time as a safety coordinator with the county and for the morgue. According to her own resume, she is currently the person responsible for indigent burials, which are at the heart of the crisis at the morgue.