Jeffrey Rouse, M.D., Coroner of Orleans Parish, and his team will soon—at long last—move into their brand new office.
The $14.8 million facility at Earhart Boulevard and South Claiborne Avenue will house both the New Orleans coroner and the city’s emergency medical services.
Since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina flooded the original coroner’s office and morgue in the basement of the courthouse, they’ve been forced to operate out of a former funeral parlor. The cramped, poorly-ventilated space leaves much to be desired, and to make matters worse, it suffered a fire in 2011.
The New Orleans EMS also lost their facility when the levees were breached and have worked out of three different temporary locations since that time.
The new 37,000 square foot facility, which will soon be complete, features a 23,000 square foot coroner’s wing with office space, pathology laboratories, and storage areas. The EMS wing will be 14,500 square feet made up of mostly office space.
We talked to James Brocato with ARC Mechanical, the mechanical contractor on the project, and he said that surprisingly there was nothing particularly unusual about the plumbing that goes into a coroner’s office. There are certainly more floor drains and perhaps a floor sink or two than in a typical commercial building, but all in all nothing unique about the piping material.
Brocato said that one thing that did stand out was the installation of trench drain systems at the loading docks, which will be able to accommodate 18-wheelers.
The rear parking lot will also feature connections for refrigerated trucks in case of emergency situations. After Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, the coroner relied on trucks for morgue storage. Those loading docks and electrical connections are a sad reminder of the number of lives lost during Hurricane Katrina and the impact a similar storm could have on the city of New Orleans.
In an interview with the Times-Picayune, Rouse said, “Almost all of us at some point have intentionally driven by the new place and pulled over to the side just to gawk and be convinced that it’s reality.”