HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lisa Nagamine, a Honolulu resident, is grieving the loss of her mother in December. A celebration of life was held, but she said the process has been drawn out due to waiting for the death certificate.

“For example, bank accounts, we have to cancel health insurance, those kinds of things and all of that you do need that death certificate,” said Nagamine.

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Nagamine did receive the death certificate three months later but she wasn’t the only one waiting. According to the City, the current wait time is six months on average. The Hawaii Department of Health issues all death certificates, but they can’t complete it until the Medical Examiner’s Office finishes its reports.

The Medical Examiner’s Office investigates if the death is due to violence, accidental, sudden, unattended or suspicious manners to name a few. The Honolulu Medical Examiner added, it’s working on an 877 report backlog dating back three years ago and 400 reports have been completed so far.

“Our caseload is increasing every year and investigators have been working on a large number of cases and they are getting burned out,” said Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi, Honolulu Medical Examiner.

The Medical Examiner is urgently requesting two new positions in its latest budget proposal. It’s also requesting $3,294,128 for salaries for fiscal year 2024. It added, it’s been unable to recruit a forensic pathologist for several years due to a nationwide shortage and high cost of living in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Chaminade University’s Forensic Science Department is working with the Medical Examiner’s Office to help streamline applicants.

“We’re really thankful to work with them, because in turn they host a lot of our students as interns,” said Dr. David Carter, Chaminade University Director of Forensic Sciences.

There are also ongoing facility renovations at the Medical Examiner Office in Kalihi. Work is expected to be completed within the next fiscal year. When work is done, the Medical Examiner will have a new refrigerator storage section to hold remains.

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The Medical Examiner said it’s sorry about the inconvenience families are experiencing and after the new pathologist starts soon, it expects the service will be improved and the wait time will be gradually shortened.