Two Spokane doctors have collected signatures from 136 colleagues who want Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend booted from office.
The doctors “strongly endorse” recalling Amend and want to swap the coroner for a medical examiner who is highly trained in death investigation, according to a petition making the rounds at doctors’ offices.
“There are physicians in the community who are very concerned about his ability to function as a coroner,” said Dr. Mary Anne McDonald, a kidney specialist.
McDonald and Dr. Judy Benson, an internist, began collecting the signatures three weeks ago after discovering they both had complaints about Amend’s behavior.
“The main thing I’ve heard is his medical knowledge is inappropriate for the times,” McDonald said.
Through his wife, Amend refused to comment.
The doctors plan to purchase advertising space in The Spokesman-Review to display their petition and signatures.
Dr. Jeff Collins, another internist, said he signed the petition largely to protest comments Amend made condemning homosexuality.
“As a physician, there’s no reason for him to have spoken out on that issue except for hate-mongering,” said Collins. “It was just ghastly.”
Amend’s comments on homosexuality came when he was telling news reporters 8-year-old Rachel Carver, a murder victim, was sodomized in the past. Her uncle has been charged in the slaying.
McDonald said she first encountered Amend upon the death of a patient with end-stage liver disease.
The woman died from an infection developed when she was on peritoneal dialysis, which allows people to travel or go to work while taking treatments.
“He (Amend) said we should not let anyone do peritoneal dialysis because one patient died from it,” said McDonald.
“He did not seem to understand that peritoneal dialysis is common,” said McDonald. The treatment is the fastest-growing type of dialysis in the nation and quite appropriate for some patients, she said.
McDonald said doctors exchange stories “on a fairly regular basis” in which they believe Amend acted inappropriately, such as relaying to survivors inaccurate causes of death.
Physician signatures were collected via fax, said McDonald, who identified doctors using a directory from the Spokane County Medical Society.
Jan Monaco, medical society spokeswoman, said Spokane County is home to about 900 doctors. That includes at least 150 retired doctors.
The medical society’s president, Dr. John Gollhoffer, is among those who didn’t sign the petition.
“I’d rather see all of us devote our energies to passage of the new (citycounty) charter,” said Gollhoffer.
Among other things, the charter would replace the office of coroner with an appointed medical examiner.
The Spokane County Medical Society, however, also is reviewing whether Amend breached confidentiality when publicly discussing Carver’s death.
Last Friday, a judge cleared the way for a citizens recall petition drive aimed at removing Amend from office.
McDonald said she also expects doctors to add their names to that recall petition.