Four years ago, I toured the city’s Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) for “Working Stiffs,” a story that looked at the crew of people who research unnatural, traumatic, or unexpected deaths in the Mile High City. Led by doctor James Caruso, a former Navy doctor and the city’s seventh chief medical examiner, the OME was searching for a new home. Flash forward to 2018, and they finally have one: 500 Quivas Street, a converted warehouse near where I-25 and 6th Avenue meet, owned by Denver Health (Caruso says Denver Health was “instrumental” in the move and renovation).
The new digs—the grand opening was on May 24—encompass 29,000 square feet of space, which is ample room to conduct the more than 1,100 postmortem examinations Caruso’s team handles each year. Before, stacks of boxes crowded hallways, but now investigators and doctors move efficiently through the halls from examination rooms to office space and back. The literal “flow” is quite intentional. “The employees designed the place,” Caruso says. “It was great for morale.” (The project recently won an award for best government/public building from Engineering News-Record.)
There’s plenty of new equipment (including an updated x-ray machine), a sophisticated ventilation system, places for staff to workout, change, and rest, and a space for meeting with family members of the deceased. “Denver is a great place to live and work,” Caruso says. “A 21st century city needs a 21st century medical examiner office.” Now, it has one.