To The Editor:
I appreciate the story “Dental Work: Queens Dentist ID’s Katrina Bodies” (Queens Tribune, Nov. 17, 2005). However, I would like to clear up a number of inaccuracies. Mainly, I would like to stress that I wasn’t “working on my own.” I was part of the DMORT East team that, when I arrived, consisted of 106 forensic members. The team was made up of forensic dentists, pathologists, radiologists, anthropologists, medical examiners/coroners, DNA and fingerprint specialists, funeral directors/embalmers and mental health specialists. I met most of my fellow teammates in Mississippi for the first time. They were a very select group of people, and it was amazing how we all bonded so strongly.
The dental section was particularly outstanding and consisted of over 25 forensic odontologists. When we took X-rays and evaluated the victim’s remains, there were up to six dentists present in the morgue. All were helping each other while compassionately evaluating the Katrina victims. We all took shifts so that everyone could participate and be highly accurate in our identification process. The team did process over 25 victims on some days, but again it was a team effort and I wasn’t counting how many victims I myself had worked on.
Another small misunderstanding was a reference that I was there before the equipment had been shipped. The morgue equipment was already there. What I was referring to was the portable toilets, showers, washing machines… that arrived later and made the teams life a whole lot better. Though I still can only contemplate why I was so unhappy with my own living conditions, because I was alive, and my situation was temporary.