The year 2009 was a test year for the Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office with having a full year to combine actual statistics and revamp the effectiveness of the office.
Many goals that were planned for 2009 were met and accomplished with a huge savings to Parish Government and the citizens of Lafourche Parish.
All reportable deaths were properly investigated and recorded. The software program that is utilized has processed cases more efficiently and has been essential to the function of the Coroner's Office.
Savings to Parish Government includes utilizing Parish inmates to wash and paint the inside and outside of our facility. The morgue has been extremely clean and office area is pleasant to visit. Outside has been landscaped with flowers by Elaine Peters. The roof was replaced from storm damage and new fans were installed as well as the ceiling repaired.
Utilization of the morgue with roof and ceiling repairs completed for Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency and the Southern Eye Bank for harvestation/recovery.
Two new cots were purchased for removal of decease that saves from using funeral homes to do pickups with a cost saving over $30,000.00 per year.
The current van has used approximately 6000 miles in the past 18 months. It has saved the parish over $45,000\
We received a donation of a used Jeep from Sheriff Craig Webre that is utilized for emergency Order of Protective Custody orders and other duties that are necessary for emergencies e.g. Rape cases, Hostage situations, etc.
A computer program was purchased that assists the Coroner's Office in locating next-of-kin which avoids having to pauper bury a decease by finding family members in other states. Using this program 2 times pays for itself in the cost of the Parish of Lafourche paying for pauper burial, we have successfully prevented 4 cases in one month alone.
Emergency Order of Protective Custody (OPC) are issued 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This helps the citizens of Lafourche Parish that are in immediate crisis requiring an emergency evaluation. Once the order is written, law enforcement pick up the patient and transport to the Emergency Room. If a patient refuses to answer the door or holds himself hostage, the Coroner's Office goes to the scene to initiate legal means to have law enforcement perform a forced entry order. In 2009 we performed 3 individual forced entry orders.
Physician Emergency Certificates (PEC) are issued daily by the three area hospitals and must have the Coroner or Deputy Coroner perform a second evaluation and a Coroner's Emergency Certificate (CEC). Each out of parish resident that is evaluated brings revenue to the Office.
Death investigation team consist of 3 Forensic Investigators. Each investigator is on call for the entire Parish and investigates all deaths whether it is a natural causes or by violence. Notification of next-of-kin is performed, collection of personal property is inventoried and released to the proper next-of-kin. Working close with other law enforcement agencies and preparing for any cases that may go to court.
Each investigator attends numerous classes and continuing CEU's as required.
This past year, five schools that were attended at no cost to Parish government including flight, meals, hotels and cost of the seminar.
Our local funeral homes have death certificates processed and signed faster than ever before. Cremation permits are issued after proper investigation has been performed. Revenue has also been with cremation permits.
Equipment and books have been purchased and utilized. Numerous investigation tools have been used and assist the law enforcement agencies.
Body bags have been replaced when a funeral home picks up a decease from the morgue. This is a savings of thousands of dollars that do not have to be purchased.
In 2009, we performed public speaking to our civic groups, churches and public schools on drug/alcohol awareness and participating with the Childrens Youth Planning Board was a huge success.
Awareness on Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigations (SUIDI) and Sudden Infant Death Sydrome (SIDS) has been our main project to educate our mothers and fathers of proper placement of infants in cribs and to use the Back to Sleep program where infants are placed on their backs preventing deaths.
We were able to purchase a refrigerated trailer from a compny in Dallas after the trailer that was here for Hurricane Gustov was offered at a price of $20,000.00
We were able to purchase a better trailer for under $6,700.00 with a huge savings to Parish government and to our citizens.
The Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office has its Chief Investigator serve as the Director of Emergency Preparedness for Region III which includes the Parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Charles, St. James, St. John and St. Mary. This appointment will enable all the Region III Coroner's Office to combine efforts in case of a major disaster. This will include of rapid deployment of all agencies to assist.
Goals for 2009 were met and were exceeded. Goals for 2010 include more public service announcements for Back to Sleep program, Drug/Alcohol awareness, modern equipment to investigate deaths.
The cooperation with our Parish President Charlotte Randolph and Parish Administrator Crystal Chiasson and the entire Parish Council has made the Lafourche Parish Coroner's Office operate efficiently and legally.
Our appreciation is also to Sheriff Craig Webre and District Attorney Cam Morvant for their continued assistance.
In closing, I am pleased to submit our 2009 Annual Report and wish all a Safe and Happy New Year!
Dr. John C. King
Coroner of Lafourche Parish
Requirements for Reporting Deaths to the Office of Coroner
LA. R.S. 33:1563
Duty to hold autopsies, investigations, etc.
The coroner shall either view the body or make an investigation into the cause and manner of death in all cases involving the following:
Suspicious, unexpected, or unusual deaths.
Sudden or violent deaths.
Deaths due to unknown or obscure causes or in any unusual manner.
Bodies found dead.
Deaths without an attending physician within thirty-six hours prior to the hour of death.
Deaths due to suspected suicide or homicide.
Deaths in which poison is suspected.
Any death from natural causes occurring in a hospital under twenty-four hours admission unless seen by a physician in the last thirty-six hours.
Deaths following an injury or accident either old or recent.
Deaths due to drowning, hanging, burns, electrocution, gunshot wounds, stabs or cutting, lightning, starvation, radiation, exposure, alcoholism, addiction, tetanus, strangulation, suffocation, or smothering.
Deaths due to trauma from whatever cause.
Deaths due to criminal means or by casualty.
Deaths in prison or while serving a sentence.
Deaths due to virulent contagious disease that might be caused by or cause a public hazard, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Coroner's jurisdiction is generally determined by the type of death, and/or the parish of domicile.
It is necessary that the Coroner of the parish in which the death occurs does an initial investigation in order to determine jurisdiction. Thus, all deaths required to be reported to the coroner should be reported to this office and this parish will be responsible for notifying other Coroners, if appropriate
2006 LAFOURCHE AUTOPSIES JEFFERSON PARISH CASES
2007 LAFOURCHE AUTOPSIES JEFFERSON PARISH CASES
2008 LAFOURCHE AUTOPSIES JEFFERSON PARISH CASES
NOTE: ONLY 1 CASE SENT TO JEFFERSON IN 2008 AFTER DR. KING APPOINTED
2009 LAFOURCHE AUTOPSIES JEFFERSON PARISH CASES
Natural Deaths Reportable Cases 2009
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) 1
Arterioscleroitic Heart Disease 2
Atrial Fibrillation 1
Cardiac Arrest 8
Cardio Pulmonary Arrest 4
Cerebral hemorrhage 1
Cerebrovascular disease 14
Chonic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 21
Cirrhosis of the Liver 2
Congenital Hydrocephalus 1
Congestive Heart Failure 14
Failure to Thrive 1
GI Bleed 2
Heart Disease 3
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infect (incl asymptomatic infect ARC,and AIDS) 1
Kidney Failure 1
Liver Failure 3
Myeloma Leukemia Without Remission 2
Myocardial Infarction 70
Parkinson's Disease 6
Pulmonary Edema 1
Pulmonary Fibrosis 6
Renal Failure 11
Seizure Disorder 1
Stilborn Birth (Non-traumatic) 1
Supra Nuclear Palsy 1
Accidental Reportable Deaths 2009
Total number of Accidental is 36
Blunt Force Trauma 14
Cervicospinal trauma 2
Intoxication with benzodiazepine 1
Intoxication with cocaine 3
Intoxication with morphine 2
Intoxication with opiate 1
Pulmonary arterial thromboembolism 4
Skull Fracture 1
Smoke inhalation 1
Gunshot Wound is 6
Ages Under 16 1
Ages 17-25 0
Gunshot Wound 3
Pending Cases 1
Coroner Emergency Certificates
2008 is partial as no records were kept from January 2008-May 30, 2008
The Coroner can order a psychiatric evaluation on a patient under an Order of Protective Custody or OPC. The Coroner can also agree with the need for an involuntary commitment of a patient if, after an examination of the patient, the coroner finds the patient either dangerous to self, dangerous to others or gravely disabled and unable or unwilling to seek voluntary care. This is called a Coroner’s Emergency Certificate or CEC. Under the mental health law, the Coroner does not keep a patient in the hospital. Once a patient is committed to a hospital under the mental health law, the attending psychiatrist decides how long the patient stays. There are limitations under the mental health law that limits the stay to 15, 28 or 30 days depending on the circumstances. However, the psychiatrist can initiate a legal process called a judicial commitment. The patient can be kept in a facility against his/her will if a judicial commitment is issued by a judge. Every time a Physician Emergency Certificate (PEC) is issued, the Coroner has up to 72-hours to perform a second evaluation on the patient.
Lafourche Parish has 3 hospitals, Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, Ochsner St. Annes and Lady of the Sea General. Each hospital can issue a Physician Emergency Certificate (PEC) and the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office is then notified that a Coroner’s examination is needed.
In 2008, previous administration of the Lafourche Parish Coroner’s Office were not billing for out of parish residents that were examined. Under the Louisiana State Law RS 28:52 each out of Parish resident that is examined in Lafourche Parish the Coroner’s Office of that parish is billed $50.00 for the Physician Emergency Certificate (PEC) and $50.00 for the Coroner’s Emergency Certificate (CEC).
Upon Dr. John King’s appointment in May 30, 2008 Revenue was created by the proper billing to other Parish Coroner’s Offices.
Revenue June 1, 2008-December 31, 2008 $10,100.00
Revenue Jan 2009-December 31, 2009 $38,020.00
Projected 2010 Revenue $45,000.00