Baton Rouge – With the opening of a Vital Records Registry branch in Hammond, citizens in the Florida Parishes now will have an easier time getting birth and death certificates.
According to Department of Health Secretary David Hood, this satellite Vital Records office continues the agency’s effort to improve customer service by bring important government functions closer to citizens. The new branch is set to open Monday, Jan. 5. It is located in the parish health unit at 15481 West Club Deluxe Road in Hammond.
"Several years ago, the Governor’s Office challenged all state agencies to be more aware of the needs of those we serve and develop specific strategies to improve customer service," Hood said. "We accepted this challenge at LDH and a key, visible result has been the opening of satellite branches for obtaining vital records throughout the state."
Hood said these satellite vital records branches are part of a larger effort to make it convenient for citizens to obtain these important documents.
"We are striving to ensure a positive, customer-friendly experience when someone requires these services," Hood added. "For most citizens, the closest they come to interacting with state government is at the Driver’s License Bureau or at the Vital Records office. Although infrequent, these interactions can shape a taxpayer’s perception of state government as a whole."
This is the second Vital Records branch that DHH’s Office of Public Health will open next week. The other branch location opens Tuesday in Thibodaux.
Sharon Howard, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health, said the opening of these two branches continues the goal of making vital records available to citizens within 50 miles of their homes.
"Our goal is to be as convenient as possible," Howard added. "Eventually, we hope to make services even more convenient by offering them at every parish health unit in every parish, throughout the state."
The demand for certified copies of birth and death records is high, with more than 500,000 individual customer service requests each year. These documents are needed for many normal and routine occurrences such as enrolling children in school and obtaining Social Security numbers. They are required to prove citizenship when obtaining passports, to verify the ages of children who participate in sports and to obtain drivers’ licenses.
Howard added that when it is time to retire and begin drawing Social Security benefits, these records are needed to prove one’s age.
"In each instance, people want the documents now; they do not want the inconvenience of traveling long distances for same-day service or waiting weeks for mail delivery," she said.
The charges for vital records are set by the Legislature, and are as follows:
Birth Certificate: $15
Birth Card (Birth Record Abstract): $9
Death Certificate: $9 (initial funeral home), $7 (all others)
Marriage Certificate (Orleans Only) $5
Vital records also can be obtained by mail. When placing an order, include all birth, death or marriage facts and your relationship to the registrant. Mail your document order with a personal check or money order to: Vital Records Registry, P.O. Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160. Allow approximately six weeks for service.