Three South Queens legislators joined together last Friday to demand that Gov. Cuomo sign a bill that is aimed at reforming hospital intake for people with disabilities during a pandemic.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) gathered with Assemblymembers Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Park) and Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Woodhaven) at the Regal Cinema in Glendale, a favorite spot of Fred D’Amico, whom they named their bill after.
When D’Amico, a 30-year-old man with severe Asperger’s, was brought by his mother, Maria, into Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center on Long Island on March 27, 2020, she was forced to leave due to the governor’s executive orders preventing guardians or caregivers from accompanying those with mental disabilities through their hospitalization in an effort to stop the spread of Covid.
By March 31, after D’Amico’s condition had worsened and he was intubated, hospital staff decided to take him off life support. His mother only learned about the decision after many frustrated attempts to get in touch with her son and hospital staff.
Four days later, the D’Amicos were told that their son had passed away, leaving them devastated knowing Fred was unable to speak or advocate for himself.
Neighborhood advocate Connie Altamirano then began working with the family to advocate for legislation. Addabbo introduced a bill that would ensure people with disabilities are allowed to have an essential support person present for the duration of their hospital stay in the instance of another pandemic or other health crisis and dedicated the bill to Fred’s memory.
“We have a lot to learn. Because of this Covid crisis, we have a lot to learn for the next pandemic, for other families. And that’s why we’re here today,” Addabbo said.
It passed unanimously in the Senate and Assembly, where a version was introduced by Pheffer Amato. Now the legislators are urging Cuomo to sign the bill as soon as it lands on his desk sometime after the legislative session ends in June.
Pheffer Amato added that after introducing the bill, she heard from families who found themselves in similar circumstances as the D’Amicos during the height of the pandemic.
“With this bill no one will have to be alone,” said Maria. “No one will have to suffer the pain I’m suffering every day. Please Governor Cuomo, sign this bill.”