NY lawmaker creates ‘Fred’s Law’ to allow disabled patients to have caretaker in hospital amid pandemic

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A grieving Queens family is taking action after their son, who had Asperger’s, died of COVID-19 and was not allowed an assistant because of restrictions at the hospital.

Maria D’Amico says her 30-year-old son, Fred, died of COVID in March – just four days after being admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital on Long Island.

She notes that while she was there when he arrived, she was asked to leave immediately because of newly imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

Only left with a cell phone, the family knew Fred was not able to discuss best healthcare options with doctors, and he died alone.

D'Amico Family
Fred D'Amico, far right, with his family. Photo credit Maria D'Amico

With the help of advocate Connie Altamirano, the family got connected with New York State Senator Joe Addabbo, who is pushing a new bill to help those with disabilities amid the pandemic.

“We've heard so many heartbreaking stories during the pandemic but, this was one really stuck out because it might've been avoidable,” Addabbo said.

His bill, “Fred’s Law,” would allow patients with disabilities to have a caretaker be their voice for healthcare-related needs during a pandemic or disaster emergency.

Fred's Law
A flyer advocating for lawmakers to pass "Fred's Law" Photo credit Connie Altamirano

“It’s about making sure that those in the medical field dealing with that patients are fully aware of what that patient is going through and what that patient’s needs are, specifically. All because the patient cannot communicate that for themselves,” the state senator said.

Fred’s Law is a priority bill for the senator, who says having a care person with the patient is doable, even with COVID restrictions.

“I don't see any issues about here,” Addabbo said. “We’re talking about one individual, all safety measures so social distancing, masks, gowns, face shields – whatever it is – isolation.”

Altamirano is hoping that any families going through similar experiences will reach out to her at conniealtamiranopressinquires@gmail.com or (347) 777-0841.