By the time she was sworn last week, Mary Beth Pais had everything in order for when she takes over as Forsyth County’s coroner.
When the giant peach drops Monday night in Atlanta to ring in 2013, Pais will begin her new role.
“We will have a smooth transition I’m sure,” she said.
Pais, who is succeeding three-term coroner Lauren McDonald III, will bring along three deputy coroners — Aletha Barrett, a Forsyth County crime scene investigator; nurse and paramedic Kim Adams; and Michael Decker, a neuroscientist, nurse and respiratory therapist.
“I have a wonderful team,” she said. “They’re just super people and … they all have their own little subspecialty, their own little niche of knowledge they bring to the table.
“We have a schedule in place and we have a backup to cover 24 [hours], seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
Dispatch will have a copy of the staff’s schedule and contact information for everyone so the lines of communication are always open with her department, she said.
Pais holds a master’s degree in education from Ashland University and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Cleveland State University. She trained as a medicolegal death investigator at St. Louis University School of Medicine.
In addition to 30 years in nursing, Pais also brings experience taking calls as a deputy coroner for Tallapoosa County, Ala. She has also served as a pathology tech in the Alabama Forensic Lab in Montgomery, Ala.
Pais and her team spent a few days earlier this month in state-mandated training.
“Many [in the class] were deputy coroners that are now coroners,” she said. “Talking with them, you learn from their experiences and they would give you suggestions and you put them into your own little computer and save them.
“It was a well-planned program, it was very well delivered, a lot of resources were obtained and there were certainly a number of people with whom one could connect and communicate with, so I really enjoyed it. I know all of my deputy coroners did as well.”
One of the main differences the county will see as Pais replaces McDonald is updated technology.
“We will be computerizing,” she said. “It is a very valuable tool because the coroners are responsible for very specific deaths that must be recorded and collated and this system will allow that to do that for me.”
Pais said she’s long been interested in serving as a coroner. When McDonald announced he wouldn’t seek a fourth term, it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Being elected as coroner, however, was bittersweet for Pais, as her new role meant she had to resign as an educator at Georgia State University’s nursing school.
“It’s really not wise to hold two full-time jobs at the same time,” she said. “They were very sad to see me go, but at the same time they were very proud of me and excited for me.”
Pais said she’s grateful to those who supported her run for office and looks forward to getting started.
“In Forsyth County I’m very blessed with a wonderful team of people with the sheriff’s department and the police department that do the crime scene investigations,” she said. “We work together and my hope is that we will do this, we will do this well and everyone will benefit as a result of that.
“I want to do the very best I can for the citizens of Forsyth County.”