Disappointed in coroner story

  • Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dear Ms. Priest and Ms. Watts,

I was extremely disappointed by the article in The Summerville Journal Scene today, “Coroner’s office pays family members, violates state ethics law, county nepotism policy” by A.M. Sheehan. Though I have no knowledge of anything of the sort, the article reads like a personal vendetta. During these tight financial times, I actually applaud Mr. Nisbet for seeking the help of his mother to assist with routine reports on Hospice deaths. While I agree that it is hard to call her a volunteer if she is being paid for her service, the amount of money that is receiving for this work is absolutely trivial. The volunteer designation and per diem payment plan allows our community to benefit from a seasoned and professional public servant who obviously is willing to handle a difficult task while building and nurturing important relationships with Hospice agencies at a very low cost. Would we prefer that Mr. Nisbet hire a state employee to handle these calls? If so, the costs associated for an entry level position would easily increase ten-fold and that would secure the service of someone who has no special training or skills. In the end, we would pay more and receive less, but at least A.M. Sheehan would be pleased. This is disappointing journalism on every level.

Having worked for the state for ten years in healthcare, I know first hand that any reporting of data is dependent on the specific requests for information. Deaths are a matter of public record and I have full confidence that any variation in the data provided in any report was merely the direct result of the inclusion or exclusion of variables from the request. If you are going to publish an allegation of a data discrepancy between two reports, please have the courtesy to research and publish the exact data request for each report with full citations.

I also resent the alleged misconduct by the concluding statement regarding Mr. Nisbit’s availability for additional comment, “Mr. Nisbit was said to be out of the country...” While I do not know Mr. Nisbet, I do know that the job of Coroner is hardly 9 to 5. If Mr. Nisbet managed to take a vacation, I’d assume that given the line his work in his service to this state, he was completely deserving.

I respectfully request a retraction or an apology. Few people feel called to serve as a Coroner and I would hate for our community and our state to lose a dedicated public servant over such an unprofessional and unwarranted attack.

Sincerely yours,

Jenny S. Commins

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