A Massachusetts man has gotten a law passed in honor of his late wife who died after suffering an asthma attack when she was steps away from a hospital emergency room.
After two arduous years, Laura’s Law was passed. The legislation was named after 34-year-old Laura Beth Levis, who succumbed to an asthma attack when she was unable to find the correct door into the hospital.
"Confused by this, Laura tried the wrong door, which was locked," Peter DeMarco wrote in an emotional essay, "Losing Laura," for The Boston Globe. "Her attack overcame her before she could make it to the right door."
The legislation requires every emergency room entrance in Massachusetts to establish “first-ever standards for signage, lighting and the security monitoring of doors,” People reported.
“Laura could have been anyone of us and now because of Laura’s Law every one of us will be helped and for some maybe even their lives will be saved,” DeMarco said regarding his wife’s sudden 2016 passing.
In a Jan. 17 Twitter post, DeMarco shared a photo of the Gov. Charlie Baker signing the bill. He said that the small ceremony took place at the Great Hall, and because of COVID-19, only 10 people were allowed, which included DeMarco’s parents and Laura’s niece, Amber.
“It took nearly two years to get here. I wasn’t sure we would even reach this day,” DeMarco said. “In spite of all the hurdles that coronavirus had handed us, the law passed unanimously. In the end, everyone saw how good and pure a bill it is, how essential it is and how extremely important it was to honor the life of a young beautiful woman who died so tragically and so unnecessarily.”
DeMarco became a healthcare advocate in 2018 and started his journey to pass that, as he wrote in his essay, would “create environments that minimize mistakes." He said after his essay was published, he heard from others who experienced similar heartache.
“I heard so many stories, too many stories, of how confusing hospitals can be,” he said at the bill signing. “I think they can because of there very nature. I think their can also be safety failures can creep up and become part of the wallpaper that people don’t see anymore."
However, he explain his journey was not an easy one and one that took determination. He told WBUR that he was up against the clock as Jan. 5 marked the official end of the legislation, and as such, he knew that "there was a 50/50 chance the bill could die in committee." "The legislative process is frustratingly slow even without a pandemic; with one, hundreds of smaller bills like Laura's Law stood little chance of being voted on before Jan. 5," DeMarco said. “I began to fear that all our work, and Laura's awful death, would not change a thing."
His sponsors, Rep. Christine Barber and Sen. Pat Jehlen of Somerville, told him that if he could somehow keep Laura's Law from falling to the bottom of the pile, it might be heard before the buzzer sounded, WBUR reported.
“We had to make the bill a squeaky wheel, so I began asking everyone I knew to write, email or phone the State House,” he told the radio station.
DeMarco said he and his loved ones made hundreds of phone calls and wrote emails to officials in support of the law, People reported.
"By nightfall on Jan. 5, our army — Laura's army — had battered House Speaker Ron Mariano and Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz with more than 1,700 emails and nearly 500 phone calls – most of those coming in the final two days," DeMarco wrote.
The bill passed unanimously, People reported.
"It was the victory I'd fought so hard for, but, of course, it was bittersweet," said DeMarco. ”Laura is gone. After some tears, I just felt relieved that the journey was over.”
Standing at the podium after Laura’s Law was signed, an emotional DeMarco said that he hopes that "Massachusetts will lead the country in taking the worry out of whether your will be able to find and get to and ER when you rush to a hospital.
He added, “My hope is that this is the first of many Laura Laws across many states - maybe every state."