Death of Woman Who Collapsed Outside ER Leads to New Proposals

Laura Levis was having an asthma attack when she found the door to the ER locked

What to Know

  • Laura Levis was having an asthma attack Sept. 16, 2016 when she found the door to the ER locked at Somerville Hospital.
  • She was found unresponsive on a bench near the hospital's main entrance. She died Sept. 22.
  • Levis' husband, Peter DeMarco, is pushing for new legislation that would prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

After losing his wife, a Massachusetts man hopes her death will lead lawmakers to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Peter DeMarco says he's looking for change, not vengeance. His wife, Laura Levis, died after having an asthma attack outside Somerville Hospital in 2016. She couldn't get into the hospital because the door she went to was locked.

She panicked, only exacerbating her condition.

"My justice will come in making, in having Laura's death have meaning," DeMarco said.

Thursday afternoon, DeMarco was at the Massachusetts State House, supporting two bills aimed at preventing something like this from happening to another family.

"This is about making sure this is matter of course. That every hospital thinks about and installs proper lighting and proper signs," said state Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Levis called 911 while outside, but the hospital staff couldn't find her based on details from the regional 911 call center. She was eventually found on a bench outside the hospital by a firefighter, who performed CPR. The young woman died a week later.

One proposed bill would require hospitals to have safe access to emergency care. The other would remove the liability cap of $100,000 for public and non-profit hospitals.

"This is about trying to level the playing field to make sure that all hospitals see patients the same way," said state Rep. Christine Barber.

DeMarco is a reporter for the Boston Globe and wrote the story "Losing Laura" for the paper's magazine. He says his story and proposed legislation are his way making a difference.

"Her death just can't be for nothing. Laura was a beautiful, vibrant, strong, fit, funny, incredibly intelligent woman, and she never should have died," he said.

DeMarco and lawmakers are also looking at the state's 911 system and what can be done to avoid another death like this one.

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