If signed into law, Bill S.1035A, also known as Fred’s Law, would require hospitals to allow people with disabilities to have a support person present for their entire hospitalization, even during a pandemic.
The bill, first drafted by state Senator Joseph Addabbo, passed the state Senate and Assembly and now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature or veto.
Fred D’Amico was an adult with autism from Glendale. D’Amico died alone in a hospital in late March of 2020 from COVID-19. Medical staff would not allow his family, who were also his caretakers, to be with him due to COVID restrictions.
Addabbo drafted the bill to prevent this from happening again.
“After hearing [D’Amico’s] story and listening to the pain his family went through, I knew I had to try and do something so no other family has to experience this horrible situation,” said Addabbo.
Addabbo said that legislation does not often move fast in the state Legislature, but he thinks the rationality of the bill made the process move much quicker.
“Here’s an individual who can’t convey their medical condition, what needs they have and yet because of a pandemic and rules, they were not allowed to have a caretaker with them,” said Addabbo. “If someone cannot convey a medical condition and you’re in a hospital for medical attention, it would just be rational that that person should have a [caretaker] with them.”
Connie Altamirano, an advocate for the bill and friend of the family, said that the D’Amico family has a “lifetime of thinking ‘what if?’”
“They’ll always have to think, ‘what if we were there for him’ or ‘what if we got to say goodbye,’” said Altamirano.
Maria D’Amico, Fred’s mother, said the bill’s passage is crucial for the cause and closure.
“Once this bill is signed into law, it will not only give my son his voice back but keep his memory alive,” said D’Amico. “Through this bill, my son will help others have a voice and never be alone again.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato sponsored Fred’s Law.
“No other family will ever have to go through what the D’Amicos did because of this legislation, and that’s a huge step forward,” said Amato. “When [Cuomo] signs this bill, people with disabilities will be able to have their advocates with them during hospitalizations, even during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic– allowing for peace of mind, and proper advocacy and decision making for the families.”
Addabbo and Amato, alongside co-sponsor Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, will hold a press conference requesting Cuomo to sign the bill into law.
The press conference will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, June 4, at the Shops at Atlas Park, located at 8000 Copper Ave. in Glendale. The D’Amico family and community activists will also be present.
“We will come together as a community and respectfully request that Cuomo sign this important piece of legislation into law,” said Addabbo.
Addabbo said he is hopeful that Cuomo will sign the bill into law and hopes the Governor acts quickly.