Letters

The Doctor Is in a Snit
As a fellow in the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Department and as one of the subjects mentioned in Jose Luis Jimenez's article "Quincy He Ain't" (May 27), I feel it is important to correct certain facts and to provide additional information in considering the quality of the department and its contribution to the county.

Much of the information in the article comes from sources within the department identified by Mr. Jimenez as "renegade staffers." Clearly the incentive for these staffers to come forward must be questioned. The most glaring motivation may be their self-interest rather than a more civic drive. One staffer was in line for the position of chief medical examiner, now held by Dr. Roger Mittleman, and again two years later for the job of deputy chief medical examiner. In the opinion of the evaluating committee, he was not the leading or most suitable candidate on both occasions.

Others within the department have lucrative second jobs elsewhere in the Miami area and throughout the Caribbean performing autopsies. The desire to protect these activities may be a motivation. Rather than joining a new team, they chose to undermine the office and potentially damage the valuable service provided to the people of Miami-Dade County.

Each administration brings different strengths to the Medical Examiner Department. Some are strong administrators, others are strong doctors and scientists, others excel as forensic detectives. The quality of Dr. Mittleman's leadership was documented when this year's fellows, an elite group of doctors-in-training brought into the department through a national selection process, felt compelled to write their own letter to Assistant County Manager Paul Philip in support of Dr. Mittleman and Dr. Michael Bell.

These same fellows, including myself, were excluded from interviews for the article for obvious reasons. Mr. Jimenez was told that I had completed my fellowship and had left the department, when in fact I am still on staff. As members of the staff for only one year, the fellows' only motivation is to absorb the leadership and training brought forward by Drs. Mittleman and Bell.

As for the incident cited in the article concerning my findings for a specific autopsy, it is inappropriate and unprofessional to comment on the facts, though others have. I will say that far from being "a recent medical school graduate," I in fact graduated from one of the most prestigious medical schools in the United States almost ten years ago, was intern-of-the-year at one of the leading hospitals in New York, and completed six years of residency at one of New York's top hospitals. This hardly qualifies me as a recent graduate.

Further, the education I received within the United States, where the standards are indeed higher than at many foreign programs, has given me a sense of dedication and commitment the renegade staffers cannot question or match. If records have been changed, one must look to those who sought to create a record for their personal use.

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department was established by Dr. Joseph Davis as one of the most, if not the most, pre-eminent medical examiner offices in the nation. It remains so today under Dr. Mittleman. All such organizations can be improved through team members' constructive collaboration in which the goal is to further contributions to constituents rather than for their own gain.

Joann Habermann, M.D.
Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department
Miami

Jose Luis Jimenez replies: No employees of the Medical Examiner Department were intentionally excluded from my interviews, though nearly all those I contacted refused to speak. In Dr. Habermann's case, I was told by two department sources that she had recently left the office after completing her fellowship.

The Doctor Is Treated Badly
I worked at the county's Medical Examiner Department for ten years. In my opinion the management practices of electable "Bunny" Lieberman and Robert Lengel were the same: They treated employees with disrespect and a lack of consideration. Mrs. Lieberman could not do her job without constantly calling downtown for answers. And she was the queen of taking credit for what others did for her. She was also famous for constantly talking about personal stuff when it was not appropriate. She treated Dr. Mittleman like shit before he became chief.

Instead of spending her time working, she was involved in intrigue, manipulation, and creating animosity among employees. That was her trademark. In reality she was a slave-driver. She has forgotten how many times she used budget cuts to intimidate staff.

Mrs. Lieberman dies by the same sword she swung in our faces for years. She has harvested what she planted. I have pity for people like her.

Bruno E. Santos
Miami

The Doctor Is Diplomatic
Inasmuch as I am pictured in Jose Luis Jimenez's article, permit me some observations. I have not noticed any significant deterioration in the Medical Examiner Department's quality of the work since my retirement in 1996. Granted there has occurred some current and former employee dissatisfaction with a change in management style. But I perceive positive corrective efforts. For example the body-identification tag system and the end-of-day case review systems have been improved over what I left behind.

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