AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Coroner’s offices across the CSRA are dealing with the same issue, a backlog on autopsies and a longer wait for families to get closure.

“Families wanting answers that we can’t provide in a timely efficient manner,” Burke County Chief Deputy Coroner Bonnie Powell said.

In Burke County, it can mean waiting days to get an autopsy, and sometimes months for a toxicology report.

“It presents a backlog for cases and the investigative team cannot move forward until they get their information,” Powell said.

Some coroners say the issue is the result of the statewide forensic pathologist shortage.

“I think that they need pathologists. I know that the state is actively trying to recruit more pathologists, but I think that having additional pathologists will help to get the cases in quicker,” Powell said.

That’s exactly what the pathology program at the Medical College of Georgia is hoping to do.

“We train more forensic pathologists as well as try to retain them,” Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, interim chair of the Medical College of Georgia Pathology department said.

The program is already seeing success, one resident now doing a fellowship at the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta. However, the goal is also to keep forensic pathologists locally to lessen the caseload for GBI Atlanta where the director said they sometimes process 100 bodies in a week.

“Programs like this will not only increase the forensic pathologists in the state, but will also help us recruit them locally in cities like Augusta, Macon and Savannah,” Kohle said.