Assemblyman Santabarbara: New Law Ensures Families Can Care for Loved Ones with Disabilities in Hospitals

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced that a new bill he helped pass to ensure New Yorkers with disabilities can have essential support from loved ones during hospital visits is now in effect (Ch. 689 of 2021).

“Hospitals should never bar New Yorkers with disabilities from having a support person by their side for crucial health care decisions, especially during long stays,” Santabarbara said. “As the father of a son with autism, hearing about Fred D’Amico’s tragic death hit close to home for me, that’s why I helped pass Fred’s Law to prevent another family from undergoing the same heart-wrenching experience. This legislative session, I’ll continue working to ensure people with disabilities and their families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

In March 2020, Fred D’Amico, a 30-year-old with Asperger’s, was admitted to a Long Island hospital with a COVID-19 infection. Despite his inability to communicate, none of the family members who accompanied him to the hospital were allowed to enter the hospital. Tragically, his family never saw him again before he passed away four days after being admitted to the hospital.[1]

Fred’s Law prevents New York hospitals from establishing emergency rules that separate patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities from their support person while at these facilities. Santabarbara, who serves as chair of the Assembly Autism Spectrum Disorder Subcommittee, has consistently fought for legislation that protects and empowers New Yorkers with disabilities.