EXCLUSIVE: Monroe County Coroner tells Gov. Wolf, Sec. Levine should resign

Monroe County Coroner Tom Yanac (upper left), Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine (lower left) and Governor Tom Wolf (right)

In a letter faxed to Governor Tom Wolf yesterday, Monroe County Coroner Tom Yanac (upper left) asked Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine (lower left) to resign.

Coroner Yanac cites in his letter “mismanagement of the EDRS System (Pennsylvania Electronic Death Registration System) sending out uneducated directives and miscounting numbers” as reasons Levine should resign.

Coroner Yanac expounded upon his issues with the “uneducated directives” as follows:

In mid-March, Coroner’s offices, Hospitals, Doctors offices, Hospice Agencies, funeral home, were directed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that all COVID 19 Deaths must process death certificates using the EDRS. Local registers will no longer be accepting paper death certificates.
Several problems with this direction: One: not all Hospital, Doctors, Hospice Agencies, Funeral Homes were trained to use the EDRS before the pandemic. Hospital staff, nursing home staff, hospice agencies staff, and funeral home staff are being trained in the middle of a pandemic. Two: it has caused a dramatic delay in the process of disposition for decedents. This delay causes families to be unable to arrange funeral services in a timely and scheduled manner.

The Yanac letter continues:

On April 8, 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Health sent out a directive, directing
deaths that do not occur in a hospital or nursing facility be handled by the coroner to remove the decedent from the premises based on standard timeframes to the coroner’s holding facility, collect a specimen, disinfect the body bag and release to a funeral home. In this same directive, hospitals were directed not to release a decedent until a doctor has electronically signed the death certificate.

Two problems this directive has created:
Coroner’s offices do not have the man power to remove these decedents, take specimens, disinfect the body bag and release to funeral homes. Funeral homes remove decedents from premises unless a coroner’s investigation is warranted.
Doctors don’t sign death certificates immediately after someone dies. In most cases it takes the doctor up to 24 to 48 hours to certify the death certification and sign.

As News Talk 104.1 has continually reported on the fluctuations in numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths Coroner Yanac has some strong words for Secretary Levine.

Miscalculation of numbers:

There is a constant miscalculation of numbers being reported on a daily basis. This County, Monroe is recorded of having 55 deaths as of yesterday and the correct number is 71.

Brings me to today May 4, 2020. Yesterday, I was informed by a local crematory that they are housing many deceased bodies waiting for disposition permits for these decedents can be cremated for final disposition. These decedents are Pennsylvania residents, Veterans, Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, who are waiting in refrigeration for several days (in some cases) more than a week because Dr. Levine and Governor Wolf directed employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Heath to “investigate” or review all death certificates. Coroners and Medical Examiners investigate deaths not the DOH! This has caused this stated backlog of decedents.

Yanac closes his letter calling on Governor Wolf to replace Secretary Levine.

In recent days we heard about bodies being stored in UHALL trucks in New York City. Everyone knows this is unescapable. I urge Governor Wolf to remove Dr. Levine and replace with someone who is knowledgeable in the handling of mass fatality situations as exist with the current COVID 19 pandemic.

Thomas A. Yanac, Jr.
Monroe County Coroner,
1 Quaker Plaza, Room 107
Stroudsburg PA 18360

The entire letter is available here: Monroe County Coroner COVID 19 Responce

Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine are slated to hold a joint press conference at 3:30 Wednesday afternoon addressing COVID-19 related topics.

News Talk 104.1 will continue to follow developments on this story.