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Special Mention: The New York City Medical Examiner's Office
Date: July 21, 2011

Yesterday, the news broke that the Medical Examiner's Office had announced the official cause of death of Leiby Kletzky a"h. What didn't make the news, however, was the extreme sensitivity that the New York City Medical Examiner's Office displayed toward the Kletzky family and, in fact, continues to display toward the entire community.

Acting Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen James DeRoux was scheduled to release the cause of death, but he first wanted to disclose the sensitive information to the family, due to concern for their wellbeing during this difficult period. The Medical Examiner's Office attempted to contact the family several times, but there was no response. Dr. DeRoux was under immense pressure to make the announcement because law enforcement personnel were awaiting his report. Dr. DeRoux therefore reached out to his contacts at Misaskim and asked for assistance in locating the Kletzky family. Misaskim representatives contacted members of the Kletzky family and transmitted the information they had received from Dr. DeRoux. Only after Dr. DeRoux received confirmation that the family had been notified, did he proceed to announce the cause of death to law enforcement and to the public.

Special sensitivity toward the family was also shown last Wednesday when the gruesome crime came to light. The Medical Examiner's office opened up early that day as an accommodation in case anything extra would be needed, and some staffers even offered to stay late so that there would be no delays.

These are not the only incidents this week that demonstrate the compassion that the Medical Examiner's Office extends toward all New Yorkers, including the Jewish community. On Monday, a 21-year old girl from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was niftar during a surgical procedure at a hospital in New York City. The family wanted to do their utmost to bring their beloved daughter to her eternal rest as soon as possible, as mandated by halachah. The incident that led to the death of the nifteres legally requires the intervention of the Medical Examiners Office. The family contacted Misaskim for assistance after they were told that they would have to wait until the next morning since the Medical Examiner's Office was already closed. When Misaskim called its contacts at the Medical Examiner's Office, they graciously offered to open up their offices so that the body could be examined and released in a timely manner. The levayah was held on Tuesday afternoon in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was a great comfort to the family.

Misaskim is deeply grateful for the ongoing understanding that the Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch, and the entire Medical Examiner's Office consistently demonstrate toward our community. Dr. Hirsch's compassionate and stellar leadership makes the New York City Medical Examiner's Office a model for coroners across the nation. The Medical Examiner's Office is always eager to do all that it can to accommodate families who have suffered a loss. Misaskim's positive relationship with the New York City's Medical Examiner's Office enables them to continue to stand at the forefront of community service-something which is much appreciated by all.

 

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