The stainless steel gleams, and each laboratory space in the new Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (HCIFS) facility is bathed in natural light. After nine years of planning, the building is complete, and the official ribbon cutting is scheduled for March 16.
A running theme during a tour of the 210,000-square-foot building Wednesday was how much better-suited the facilities are for the work the institute does, according to executives, laboratory managers and architecture experts.
The nine-story building at 1861 Old Spanish Trail houses both the Harris County medical examiner and crime laboratory services.
The layout of the building enables seamless flow between administrative, clinical, laboratory, public and teaching/training areas, said Luis Sanchez, M.D., executive director and chief medical examiner for HCIFS.
And new features of the building include an auditorium to host training and educational programs, a separate forensic anthropology research area and a 35-foot-long firearms range where technicians can test fire arms in two areas simultaneously. An enlarged autopsy room can now accommodate seven forensic pathologists, whereas the larger autopsy room in the old space could handle only four. In total, there are 16 autopsy suites in the new building.
Robert Owens, associate principal for Page Southerland Page Inc., the architect in charge the project, speculated that the old space was roughly half of the size, making a bigger facility a welcome change for the institute, which investigates approximately 300 deaths per month.
The forensic emergency management area was modeled after the Houston Emergency Services center, complete with giant screens showing maps, a log of calls and real-time traffic cameras. The office takes about 11,000 calls per year and processes about 2,500 scenes per year, according to Jason Wiersema, Ph.D., director of forensic emergency management at HCIFS.
A drug chemistry laboratory that looks like it was lifted straight from a “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” episode processes 10,000 cases per year and has approximately 200 cases in progress at any given time, said Kay McClain, manager of the drug chemistry lab. However, while the instruments can test samples within minutes, crimes are not typically solved in 60 minutes like they are on “CSI,” Sanchez said.
The $75 million building was funded by a voter-approved bond in November 2007, and construction of the new facility began in fall of 2014. The new digs come just in time for the forensic science institute to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
In addition to the new facility, HCIFS also has a DNA laboratory in the John P. McGovern Campus at Holcombe Boulevard and Almeda Road.
RT @MDAndersonTrial: A Phase II Study of INVAC-1 Treatment of Patients with High-Risk Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia now Enrolling https://t.…
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The Point-in-Time Count is one of the ways VA estimates the homeless Veteran population in the U.S. Thank you to all the volunteers who are participating in the count in communities across America. Read about the count and last year’s results: http://bit.ly/2WcCXoa
The Point-in-Time Count is one of the ways VA estimates the homeless Veteran population in the U.S. Thank you to all the volunteers who are participating in the count across America. Read about the count and last year’s results: https://t.co/omTnfYz9xQ #EndVeteranHomelessness https://t.co/gwvwRCFMHI
Vietnam Veteran receives replacement medals https://t.co/aMTfLrP5WS via @theindependent
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Department of Veterans Affairs making suicide prevention a top clinical priority https://t.co/vhFQwYkMYv @WDTnews
To someone going through a difficult time, a text, a call, or a visit can mean so much. And sometimes, even the smallest act has the power to change a life. That’s The Power of 1: One person, one connection, or one simple act of compassion can open the door to vital support for a Veteran in crisis. www.veteranscrisisline.net
The 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran thought he was just meeting up with a few longtime friends for lunch. When he made his way into a private dining area, he was greeted by nine familiar faces who had a gift for him — replacement military medals.Grigaitis, who has been a resident at the Grand Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center, earned a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and other medals while serving in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 in the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the United States Army. Somewhere along the way, his service medals were lost.Fellow veteran Bob Labedz learned about the lost medals and set out to get replacements.
We were honored to host The Rev. Dr. Derek. Barber King, Sr., nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to celebrate the life & legacy of Dr. King.Dr. King’s unwavering focus & passion will forever be an inspiration on our path forward. #MLKDay https://t.co/HimY0WY4fP
According to the American Cancer Society, obesity acts as a risk factor in developing liver, pancreatic and endometrial cancers. Here are simple exercises to sit less and move more: https://t.co/XtYhfqN2RV.
Join us for a twitter chat on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. CST (3 p.m. ET) to discuss what you can do to have a healthy baby. #Best4YouBest4Baby #WellnessWed https://t.co/CGMqI4SmMK