Turnage announces candidacy

Published 7:41 pm Friday, July 6, 2007

My name is Derek Turnage and I’m a Republican Candidate for Coroner of Pearl River County. I’m married to Anna Bales Turnage and have two children, Madyson and Kade.

I am a member of Roseland Park Baptist Church and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Picayune. I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi School of Social Work and I’m licensed in the State of Mississippi as a Master Social Worker. I have nearly 14 years experience as a medical social worker and use my experience at Gulf Coast HomeCare as their Patient Care Representative.

I have served the citizens of Pearl River County in the current administration as a deputy coroner for the past five years. During that time, I have investigated more than 400 deaths in Pearl River County. I am a member of the Mississippi Coroner- Medical Examiners Association. Since becoming a deputy coroner, I have attained more than 130 hours of course work in medico-legal death investigation, child death investigation, substance abuse education and other medical training.

I am very involved in our community and I want to see our community move forward. Ivolunteer on the Pearl River County Crime Stoppers Board. In 2005, I graduated from the Pearl River County Partners in Leadership Class and I continue to assist the organization in training future leaders within our county. I have worked on several education initiatives in the community that include increasing awareness of the current drug problem and educating our senior adults on the need to have Advanced Directives for Health Care in place so their families and physicians will be aware of their end of life wishes.

One may ask where I want to see the Coroner’s Office in four years. I’m currently working with county officials, the administration of our local hospital, and local businesses to plan for a morgue that will serve as an appropriate location to complete autopsies. I have also secured a commitment from a pathologist who will perform autopsies in Pearl River County if we can provide an appropriate facility. This pathologist has already performed some autopsies for our county. There also is a need for a holding facility as our local funeral homes have either limited space or no space at all. As our population continues to increase, this facility is going to be a necessity.

I would like to see the Coroner’s office transition to electronic documentation. This will make coroner reports more accessible to the family members, county officials, and to the State Medical Examiner.

It is very costly for the county to train and certify a new Coroner and his deputies. If you elect me as your Coroner, I am already certified and there is no additional training other than the continuing education requirements. Our current deputies are certified through the State of Mississippi Medical Examiner’s Office and also are qualified as healthcare providers or funeral directors. If I am elected, the current deputies will retain their positions.

If you, the citizens of Pearl River County, want a Coroner that has experience, empathy, compassion and the desire to work hard, please vote for Derek Turnage, Coroner in the Republican Primary on Aug. 7. If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to contact me at 601-916-2907 or email me at derek.turnage@LHCgroup.com