Bill Author says Baker to sign “Laura’s Law” improving ER access

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Hospital signage and safety legislation pitched as a response to the tragic 2016 death of Laura Levis is set to become law on Friday, according to one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

Rep. Christine Barber announced Wednesday that she expects Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday to sign the bill (S 2931), which landed on his desk in the waning hours of the 2019-2020 lawmaking session last week. Under the soon-to-be law, the Department of Public Health will implement statewide standards requiring hospitals to improve lighting, signage, wayfinding and monitoring, aiming to ensure that all patients in crisis are able to access emergency rooms without issue.

Hospitals will need to start following the new standards six months to one year after the COVID-19 state of emergency ends. In 2016, Levis went to CHA Somerville Hospital while suffering from an asthma attack, but could not find the emergency room entrance in her state of distress. She collapsed and died just feet away from care.

Her husband, Peter DeMarco, has been pushing for lawmakers to take responsive action since then.

“A brighter sign, a guard at the security desk, a clearly marked door – any one of these things could make a huge difference to someone who’s having a heart attack or a stroke, or an asthma attack, or someone who’s overdosed on drugs and rushes to a hospital,” DeMarco said in a statement provided by Barber’s office. “No one in a medical crisis should also have to worry, ‘I hope I can find the emergency room.’ With standards for all hospitals that worry will be gone, and I don’t think we will ever again hear of someone dying steps from an emergency-room door. And that will all be because of Laura.”

DeMarco will attend the private bill-signing ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Friday, as will Barber, Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and fellow bill author Sen. Patricia Jehlen, according to Barber’s office.

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