Healthcare Meets Forensics
by Amy Benninger, digital marketing specialist
What is health care? The term health care as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary… efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals.
When I picture students in Wescoe’s accelerated healthcare management degree program, i think of all of the opportunities that lie ahead when they enter or advance in the working world. However, it had never dawned on me, prior to writing this story, that a graduate would consider working in the coroner’s office.
Why? Maybe it is because I think of the term health care as the means to improve a person’s life. However, one must also consider the final outcome in the life cycle, which is death.
EvaMarie Poliquin ’11 was a registered radiological technologist for 20 years before starting her academic journey at Wescoe to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in healthcare management. In this position, she performed diagnostic imaging exams on both living and deceased patients.
Currently a patient logistics coordinator at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), Eva also works part time at the Lehigh County’s Coroner’s Office & Forensics Center as a forensic radiographer.
In 2014 Lehigh County built a state-of-the-art facility in South Whitehall Township for the Coroner’s Office. It was about that time when Eva contacted Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim about the new facility with employment on her mind. With the expansion the center would provide x-ray services for the deceased. Prior to the move, LVHN provided all x-ray services for Lehigh County decedents (dead).
Sometimes asking the right person the right questions at the right time will land you a job, and it did just that for Eva. “My education at the Wescoe School prepared me to think outside of the box for a job,” says Eva. “I don’t think I would have approached the Coroner’s Office prior to my time at the Wescoe School.”
When a person dies of other than natural causes, measures are taken to investigate. Investigative services include forensic analysis such as xrays, photography, forensic bloodstain analysis, dna testing and more.
As a forensic radiographer, Eva administers x-rays on the decedents for medical-legal investigations, such as abuse cases, foreign body
localization (e.g. bullets), and/or to locate medical devices that may be able to support identification of the decedent. Few people are built mentally/emotionally to work in an atmosphere surrounded by death. But Eva is one of those special individuals who can. “I had always done forensic work in the hospital and found it very interesting,” says Eva.
As I stood in the medical exam room for this photo shoot, I recall feeling a bit uneasy. Many people come through this room, from various walks of life, with different ailments, all who need a living voice to tell their story. Working here is clearly not for the faint of heart; it is for those who consider it their honor to speak for those who cannot.