Jacksonville, FL - The planned resignation of Jacksonville’s interim Chief Medical Examiner has been pushed off, at least for one month.
District Four Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Rao had initially told the City that she would leave in July, citing a desire to spend time with family. She then agreed to delay that through December, but then walked it back to the end of August, again saying her family was demanding her time.
Now, WOKV has confirmed through the City of Jacksonville that Rao will continue in her role through the end of September, with a City Spokesperson saying that was Rao’s decision. The City deferred to Rao, when we asked whether they requested she stay on. WOKV has tried to reach Rao multiple time this week at the Medical Examiner’s Office, and were told once that she was out of the office, and once that she was out of the country.
During recent budget hearings, Rao had raised concern that her departure would hurt the accreditation of the Office, because a new interim Chief Medical Examiner had not been named. Despite that, the National Association of Medical Examiners Inspection and Accreditation Committee Chair told us she would not automatically put the Office on provisional status, as long as good faith efforts were being made on a replacement.
Fourth Circuit State Attorney Melissa Nelson and Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister- who represent the counties covered by the District Four Medical Examiner’s Office- are meeting privately to name a new interim Chief Medical Examiner. Nelson’s Office is not providing an update on that process at this time.
Meanwhile, a Search Committee has been formed to find candidates for a new permanent Chief. That Committee last met mid-August. They will ultimately put forward candidates to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, and the Governor makes the final appointment.