Cook County Medical Examiner, CAP Member, Resigns

Relocating to practice pathology, spend more time with family

Dr. Stephen Cina, chief medical examiner for Cook County, is resigning effective June 5, according to a statement from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Dr. Ponni Arunkumar, deputy chief medical examiner, will serve as interim chief medical examiner.

Cina took over a troubled county morgue in 2012, assuming duties from Dr. Nancy Jones, who resigned amid criticism from employees that bodies were stacking up in the morgue's cooler.

In a letter written to his staff that was obtained by the Tribune, Cina said that turning the office around exacted a toll on his health and also put stress on his family.

"Though I will sorely miss you, I need to do what is best for me and my family and move on to a new environment where I can practice forensic pathology without the 24/7 demands of running a high-profile office," Cina wrote.

"My decision to leave is purely personal and is based on a desire for a more peaceful lifestyle. I know the office will be in good hands under the stewardship of Dr. Arunkumar," he wrote.

The medical examiner's office annually handles about 5,500 cases and performs nearly 3,000 autopsies. Under Cina, the office more than doubled the number of pathologists on staff, installed a cloud-based case management system that replaced outdated technology and handwritten logbooks, and built a new automated cooler to house bodies, according to the release from Preckwinkle's office.

"Dr. Cina has done an amazing job of transforming our Medical Examiner's Office, bringing it from crisis to full accreditation in less than four years," Preckwinkle said. "Through smart and creative management, it is now a model for the nation, a great testament to Dr. Cina's determination and leadership."

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As the leading organization for board-certified pathologists, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. With more than 18,000 physician members, the CAP has led laboratory accreditation for more than 50 years with more than 7,700 CAP-accredited laboratories in 50 countries.

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Quick facts

Dr. Cina took over troubled morgue in 2012
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Medical Examiner's Office handles 5,500 case annually
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Performs 3,000 autopsies per day
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