medical examiner

Rhode Island Department of Health

The state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Christina Stanley, has been placed on paid leave. That’s according to the department of health, where officials say the move is part of an organizational review and restructuring.

The medical examiner’s office has faced a growing workload, in part because of the number of overdose deaths its staff must investigate. But department officials say the chief’s absence will not impact the progress of investigations. They have contracts with outside physicians who can help complete some tasks.

US Marine Corps / via Wikimedia Commons

The rising number of overdose deaths has strained the resources of the state’s only medical examiner’s office. Limited staffing and a growing number of requests have slowed down investigations – and threaten the office’s accreditation.

Rhode Island’s medical examiner has identified skeletal remains discovered under a factory cement floor in Providence last summer.

Health officials say his name was Phillip P. Seals. He was born in 1936 and lived in Providence until at least 1982. Workers found Seals’ skeletal remains in the basement of a hundred-year-old brick factory building on Prairie Avenue in July 2013. They were renovating the building when they discovered a skull and rib bones.

A state medical examiner is examining a body pulled from the water off of India Point in Providence. Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements told Rhode Island Public Radio that police suspect the body may be that of missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi.  Department of Health spokeswoman Dara Chadwick says it may take a little time to identify the body.

“I can’t really give you a definitive time as to when we might know. I don’t know that we’ll be able to confirm an ID today. But, again, the exam is being done today," said Chadwick.