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New York - Jewish Community Leads Charge To Postpone Rollout Of City’s New Death And Birth Recording System

Published on: July 17, 2018 09:30 PM
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(L-R James Blair Blair funeral director Hebrew Free Burial, John Goldin President of the Metropolitan   Funeral Directors Assoc., Rabbi Elchonon Zohn National Association of chevra Kadisha, Meyer Weill VP Misaskim, Councilman Mark Levine, Noor Rahba CEO Muslim funeral services, Jack Meyer Pres Misaskim, Andrew Parver Undertaker Hebrew free burial society(L-R James Blair Blair funeral director Hebrew Free Burial, John Goldin President of the Metropolitan   Funeral Directors Assoc., Rabbi Elchonon Zohn National Association of chevra Kadisha, Meyer Weill VP Misaskim, Councilman Mark Levine, Noor Rahba CEO Muslim funeral services, Jack Meyer Pres Misaskim, Andrew Parver Undertaker Hebrew free burial society

New York - Plans to unveil an updated version of a new electronic system to officially record births and deaths within New York City in just under three months has an interfaith coalition of funeral directors and others who deal with burying the dead extremely uneasy based on the failure of a similar program that was rolled out last fall.

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The city’s Department of Health launched the new eVital program on October 9th 2017, suspending its existing EVERS system as eVital went live. 

But according to Yanky Meyer, founder and director of Misaskim, eVital was online for less than an hour before the DOH pulled it down to fix significant problems that arose immediately.

And while the DOH had hoped to have eVital back and running in a matter of hours, the system was taken down indefinitely three days later, for what the NYC Health website described as “performance issues.”

The problems that ensued during those four days were tremendous, said Meyer.

“Everything came to a screeching halt,” Meyer told VIN News.  “People had to get paper death certificates written, except none of the hospitals actually had the paper certificates. Once those were finally written, people had to go downtown to get paper burial permits, with some standing on line for as long as five hours. 

Funerals in the city were delayed by days because of this and in both the Jewish and Muslim communities where burials need to take place quickly, the problem was terrible.”

After attending a training session last week for the new eVital system that is scheduled to go live on October 1st, Meyer said it seemed like history was about to repeat itself.

According to Meyer, eVital has not been tested by funeral homes and other end users and DOH statistics show that of the 13,992 doctors affiliated with hospitals who had been enrolled in EVERS, only 5,353 are currently registered in eVital, which would leave the remaining 8,639 unable to file death certificates, a necessary step in the burial process.

Other problems include a facial recognition system that will take time to recognize users if they change their appearance by growing or shaving their facial hair or by altering their hairstyle, and a queueing system that will automatically hold all requests for an hour before they are processed.

EVERS will be taken down by the DOH on the Friday night of Chol Hamoed Succos, with eVital scheduled to launch 48 hours later on the night of Shemini Atzeres, a scenario that could potentially postpone Jewish burials for as long as four days.

“Getting a paper death certificate for anyone who dies on Friday night or Shabbos on Motzei Shabbos will be nearly impossible,” said Meyer.  “No one will be able to be flown to Israel for burial after Shabbos and even burying someone in New York City on Sunday will be difficult because unless both the death certificate and the burial permit are in hand by Sunday morning, the cemetery workers will not open up a grave.”

Hoping to have the DOH postpone the rollout of eVital until all doctors and funeral homes are on board and the system is properly tested, Meyer put together a broad coalition that includes members of the Jewish, Muslim and Catholic communities as well as funeral directors from all across New York City.

The group, which included James Blair of Blair Funeral Home Services, John Golden, president of Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association, Meyer, Andrew Parver, director of operations of the Hebrew Burial Society, Noor Rabah, founder and CEO of Muslim Funeral Services, Meir Weill of Misaskim and Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, president of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha, met with City Councilman Mark Levine on Monday.

In an interview with VIN News, Levine said that he intends to do everything in his power to make sure that no disruptions take place in the process that issues death certificates.

“We need for this to be resolved in a way that respects our tradition’s need for expeditious burial, something that is not often appreciated by the broader society,” said Levine.  “We can’t wait a week for burial and that requires very efficient and predictable processing of death certificates because nothing can move until that step is taken.”

Levine categorized the scheduling of the rollout on Succos, as “ill timed” and said that it will likely create unwarranted hardships for grieving families.

Rabah called on the DOH to delay the launch of eVital launch until all of the problems have been identified and resolved and even then, only with a reliable backup plan in place.

“When you roll out the second draft of a system, it should be polished and perfected by funeral homes and by everyone who is using it, not the people who put it in place and have forced it on them.  The system should be approved and right now it is still incomplete.”

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said that he will be meeting with Meyer to discuss the subject on Thursday and that he looks forward to seeing the issue successfully addressed.

“It is critical that when the Department Of Health relaunches eVital this fall, it does not repeat the mistakes of the failed attempt last year,” said Deutsch. “Input from experts at Misaskim and others will help the department to address the problems with the system, so there is no interruption or delay in burials. I will continue to foster communication between the coalition and DOH to ensure that any issues are ironed out in advance.”

Representatives of the DOH were not immediately available to comment on the matter.



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Read Comments (2)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 17, 2018 at 10:34 PM KosherDeplorable Says:

Government software designed by the lowest bidder / highest briber, supervised by communist idiots in govt.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

2

 Jul 18, 2018 at 12:42 PM Consultant Says:

Some years ago, I was involved with a city agency with similar problems. The honchos at the agency understood little about computer systems and how they work. At a meeting I listened to them describe how they want to implement a new system within a short time. These honchos had little understanding of systems and were making plans for the system that would assure that it would fail, but wouldn't listen to anyone at the meeting with actual computer knowledge.
It soon became obvious that this was a disaster. It would take eight more years to get the new system working.

3

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