RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue cut the ribbon Monday on a new facility to house the State Laboratory of Public Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The governors toute the new $52 million building located off Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh as state of the art.
"The work that goes on here, although none of us think about it, is so critically important to the day-to-day lives of North Carolinians," Perdue said.
The new 222,000-square foot facility is expected to house 270 employees by early 2013.
The state health lab is designed to meet or exceed national standards for bioterrorism and hazardous chemical response. The lab also conducts tests for e. coli and West Nile virus, as well as processing newborn genetic screenings and HIV tests.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch said the state's spacious new autopsy suite provides additional storage and workspace to help her agency more efficiently handle the 2,200 death reviews it conducts annually.
The medical examiner's office will now have six autopsy tables, a three-fold increase over its 40-year-old facility in Chapel Hill. Radisch said the new space will help clear up a backlog of cases her office has been dealing with for years.
The new facility also has cameras for observation and teaching, as well as a new digital X-ray machine that can do a full body in about 13 seconds.
"We will be able to do more cases and finish them earlier, have more time for paperwork so that we can complete cases that we worked on, you know several weeks ago," said Radisch. "So, we should be able to get results out for families and investigators."