Mayor selects new chief medical examiner for Honolulu

Photo courtesy: City and County of Honolulu
Photo courtesy: City and County of Honolulu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Monday that Dr. Christopher B. Happy has been selected as Honolulu’s Chief Medical Examiner.

Dr. Happy is currently practicing in California. He is required to obtain a Hawaii state medical license prior to starting with the City and County of Honolulu.

The Chief Medical Examiner position has been vacant since November 1, 2009, upon the retirement of Dr. Kanthi De Alwis.  After struggling to find qualified candidates at a salary level considered low, the City proposed to raise the salary to $250,000 which was granted by the Salary Commission. Board certified forensic pathologists are rare in the United States.  Of approximately 17,000 medical school graduates each year, only 30 to 40 ultimately become forensic pathologists.

Dr. Happy is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology, and is a Fellow of the National Association of Medical Examiners. He is currently employed as a consulting Forensic Pathologist in Northern California. His past experience includes Assistant Medical Examiner at the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office; serving as the Chief Medical Examiner in the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office; Assistant Medical Examiner at the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner – Coroner’s Office; and City Medical Examiner in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.

Dr. Happy received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and did his residency in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and the University of New Mexico Medical Sciences Center. He was a Forensic Pathology Fellow and a Forensic Cardiac and Neuropathology Fellow in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.

The Chief Medical Examiner must be confirmed by the Honolulu City Council. Once Dr. Happy is licensed to practice medicine in Hawaii, which is anticipated to take a few months, the City will announce his start date.

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