New Suffolk medical examiner approved by legislative committee

A Suffolk legislative committee unanimously approved a resolution A Suffolk legislative committee unanimously approved a resolution naming Dr. Michael J. Caplan the county's chief medical examiner after he promised to take a hands-on role and stay for his full six-year term. Photo Credit: Sarah Bates Pack

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A Suffolk legislative committee Monday unanimously approved a resolution naming Dr. Michael J. Caplan the county's chief medical examiner after he promised to take a hands-on role and stay for his full six-year term.

Caplan, 52, testified for about an hour before the public safety committee and is expected to appear Tuesday before the full legislature, where a final vote is expected to ratify his nomination to the $250,000-a-year job.

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Although Caplan has never headed a medical examiner's office, he said he has had management experience as medical director of a community hospital in Michigan and did between 200 and 275 autopsies a year for more than a decade as an assistant medical examiner in Michigan and Delaware. Caplan said he would expect to do the same in Suffolk.

"It's a credibility issue," he said. "If you're not doing cases to improve your knowledge daily, then your whole basis of experience is in the past. That's why it's important to be actively involved," he said. When asked if he would serve his full term, he said, "Absolutely."

He will replace Dr. Yvonne Milewski, who left in September, months after being reconfirmed for a second six-year term.

Caplan, currently associate professor of pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina once worked under former New York City Medical Examiner Charles Hirsh, who earlier was Suffolk's medical examiner.

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He expressed an interest Tuesday in working with local funeral directors on a range of issues. Caplan also said he intends to meet with East End officials regarding their concerns over long waits for a medical examiner after fatal vehicle crashes and the traffic snarls that often occur afterward.

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