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Coroner does not seek re-election | Local news

 

Pat Felix is ​​not seeking re-election as Adams County Coroner after serving in that position for nearly two decades.

The New Oxford resident said she will be 68 when she retires and is ready for the next chapter of her life. She is also her husband’s guardian.

Born and raised in Adams County, Felix began working as a deputy coroner in 1999.

Thinking about serving more than 20 years in the Adams County coroner’s office, Felix couldn’t believe it.

“It doesn’t seem like much time has passed,” she said. “Time flies so fast.”

The coroner’s office deals with death investigations, whether accidental, suicide, homicide, drug overdose, or natural death.

The office also responds to fatal car accidents and fires, she said. According to Felix, all cremations in the county must go through the coroner’s office.

In 2019, she was instrumental in the accreditation of the coroner’s office by the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, putting hundreds of hours into the application process. It was the second time the county coroner’s office has received accreditation from the association, which takes place every five years, she said.

Felix said she is again working on finalizing her accreditation in the spring.

Adams County is one of six Pennsylvania counties to receive this accreditation, she said.

Felix has also received state certification and national recognition as a member of the American Board of Forensic Death Investigators.

Felix said she would miss talking to people from other agencies. She is currently Vice President for Region 7 of the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association. Region 7 consists of Adams, York, Cumberland, Franklin, Lebanon, Juniata, and Perry counties.

Another part of the coroner’s job is to notify family members of the death of a loved one, and sometimes staff members must locate relatives using the media.

“When someone shows up at your door with a cop, you know it’s bad news,” Felix said. “It’s devastating for them. You have to be able to handle this situation.”

The coroner is investigating whether the death was natural or accidental. Natural death is primarily associated with illness, while accidental death is associated with an unusual event, which sometimes turns out to be sudden or violent.

Part of Felix’s job is to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, answering as an investigator and determining the cause and method of death at any scene of violence, including murders, car accidents and suicides.

In 2022, the coroner’s office handled about 1,080 calls.

During her time as a coroner, Felix learned more about patience.

“I think I have a lot more understanding of the grieving process. Not everyone is grieving the same way,” she said.

Felix explained that she worked as an investigator at the scene of the death and did not perform autopsies. This is being done with the help of forensic scientists who work at Lehigh Valley Hospital, she said.

In the future, Felix believes that the future coroner will need to determine the number of employees in the office in order to cope with population growth in the county.

“The county is growing by leaps and bounds,” Felix said. “Additional deputies will be needed to keep the office running.”

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