Dr. Stephen Cina will take over for Dr. Nancy Jones as the new Cook County medical examiner. He is a self-described workaholic who most recently worked in Florida and says he can handle death and politics in Cook County.
After weeks of private meetings with commissioners and other county officials, Dr. Cina underwent the formality of a confirmation hearing.
"I'm happy to lead this effort, but I cannot stress enough this will require a team effort, not only from the employees of the office, about from county government, the agencies we interact with, the media and the public," Cina said during the hearing.
The 47-year-old Cina hails from Broward County, Florida, where he had served as an assistant medical examiner in Fort Lauderdale. He currently is the CEO of the University of Miami tissue bank. He'll be paid $300,000 a year by Cook County and will continue to operate his private consulting firm after beginning work here in September.
" My wife manages my forensic consulting business. It takes six to eight hours a week at most, so rather than watching television some nights I may do some medical legal death review," he said.
Dr. Cina replaces the recently retired Dr. Nancy Jones whose office came under fire when earlier this year the ABC7 I-Teamrevealed that hundreds of corpses had piled up in the morgue.
Dr. Cina told the commissioners he plans to add more than triple the number of forensic pathologists in the office from five to 16 and to avoid Cook County politics at all costs.
"I'm an advocate for the patients that I'm seeing. I'm supposed to be impartial. I'm supposed to be objective and tell the story for that patient, and that's what I'm going to do. Politics isn't going to play a role in my decision making at all. I'm speaking for the patient," said Dr. Cina.
Cina vowed not to hire patronage employees even when the politicians approach him with hiring "suggestions."
Dr. Cina says it will take five years to bring the Cook County M.E.'s office up to acceptable standards.