Sunday, May 19, 2024

The former CHA Somerville Hospital, where Laura Levis was fatally unable to get into the emergency room in September 2016. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to enact “Laura’s Law” Friday, requiring every hospital emergency department in the state to have entrances monitored properly by security, clearly marked and easily accessible, particularly to patients in distress, according to the office of Somerville state Rep. Christine P. Barber.

The state Legislature passed the bill, officially named “An act to ensure safe patient access to emergency care,” on Jan. 5, after the State Senate approved the bill in October. Barber and state Sen. Pat Jehlen, also of Somerville, were lead sponsors.

Both legislators are expected to watch Baker sign the bill during a small, private ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Great Hall of the State House, with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and one other person called to attend: Peter DeMarco, husband of Laura Levis, for whom the bill is named. He worked with the sponsors’ offices to draft and pass the bill.

In an article he wrote for The Boston Globe, he documented numerous failings at CHA Somerville Hospital the morning Levis approached it in September 2016, alone, in the midst of a severe asthma attack at 4 a.m. The hospital lacked an illuminated, emergency room sign above any door for her to have followed, which led Levis to choose the wrong door – which was locked. Panic-stricken, her attack intensified and she collapsed before she could reach the correct door. The 24-hour emergency room where Levis died has been removed and turned into an urgent care clinic with more limited hours. With that change, Somerville Hospital ceased to be; as part of the Cambridge Health Alliance, the site is now known as the CHA Somerville Campus.

The new regulations will not take effect until between at least six months and one year after the end of the state’s coronavirus emergency.

“The coronavirus pandemic put a stop to so many bills this session. I feared the same would happen with Laura’s Law,” DeMarco said. “But the state Legislature came through, and now Gov. Baker is coming through. They’re passing legislation that will save people’s lives. And they’re honoring Laura by doing so.”

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.