Very soon Jeffrey Rouse, M.D., Coroner of Orleans Parish will have a new office and facility out of which he and his team will work. The brand-new $14.8 million facility at Earhart Boulevard and South Claiborne Avenue will be home to the New Orleans Coroner and the city’s emergency medical services.
Since 2005 the coroner's office and morgue has operated out of several temporary offices. It all started when the original coroner’s office suffered flood damage from Hurricane Katrina. During a time when they were needed most, they had to move quickly to a former funeral parlor, a space that left much to be desired. That facility then caught fire in 2011. New Orleans was in dire need of a new and permanent home for their coroner.
The New Orleans EMS also lost their facility when the levees were breached and have been working 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 to him was the loading docks where trench drain systems were installed. The loading docks had to be able to accommodate and handle the load of an 18-wheeler.
The rear parking lot will also feature connections for refrigerated trucks for 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 can have once again 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 its reality.”