NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Death stinks. But you won’t have to smell it at the $15 million New Orleans Coroner Complex and EMS Headquarters unveiled Wednesday. The new facility has a top-notch autopsy suite, as well as a separate autopsy room for working on decomposed bodies.
“That is just one feature of many features that has me walking around here with a grin from ear to ear. I am just like a proud papa,” says Coroner Jeffrey Rouse.
It's a rags to riches story that's taken more than a decade. Since Katrina, the coroner and the EMS team have been working in shabby, make-shift conditions.
In addition to the new autopsy rooms, there’s also a new toxicology lab that will eventually be staffed so that tissue and body fluids can be analyzed on site. Another huge improvement is state-of-the-art refrigeration for 112 bodies. Before, human remains were stored in three refrigerated tractor trailers. And when bodies are transferred (to and from a funeral home for example), there's now a private drive-in bay where that will happen.
Grieving families who come to identify loved ones will have more privacy -- and a new mental health suite will mean improved -- and more private -- psychiatric services. Coroner Rouse says the new digs offer more dignity for the dead and the living.