Menendez, Holt Introduce Danielle's Act

Menendez, Holt Introduce Danielle's Act

Legislation Would Ensure Timely Medical Help forAdults With Disabilities in Crisis Situations

Washington - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) yesterday introduced "Danielle's Act," legislation designed to protect people with developmental disabilities in life threatening situations by requiring caregivers to call 9-11 in the event of a medical emergency.

"Danielle's Act serves as a living tribute to one who so tragically lost her life," said Menendez. "As legislators, it is our duty to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and protect those people most at risk. I am proud to advocate for individuals with disabilities and the families of people with disabilities who trust that their loved ones are safe, secure and healthy."

"A measure of our society's worth and compassion is how we treat our most vulnerable citizens," said Holt. "If we fail to do all we can to protect those who cannot speak for themselves, we cannot call ours a civilized society. My hope is that out of the tragedy that befell Danielle Gruskowski will come a renewed commitment to social responsibility, to caring for those who are most in need. That's what this bill is all about - reaffirming our promise to care for those who are most at-risk."

Danielle Gruskowski, a 32 year-old woman who suffered from Rett Syndrome-a neurological disorder that affects motor movements and the ability to communicate-required 24-hour care because of her condition. On the evening of November 4, 2002, she experienced multiple symptoms that indicated the need for emergency attention, yet the caretakers at her Edison, New Jersey group home failed to identify the symptoms as life-threatening and did not call 911. Danielle died the next day.

Due to the tireless efforts of Danielle's family and The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, Gov. James McGreevey signed into law legislation, known as Danielle's Law, on October 26, 2003. The law, written by State Senators Joe Vitale (D-19) and Tom Kean (R-21) and Assemblymen Guy Greg (R-24) and Eric Munoz (R-21), requires that people who work directly with the developmentally disabled or people with traumatic brain injury to call 911 in the event of a life-threatening situation.

"Danielle's Act," proposed by Senator Menendez and Rep. Holt, would:

" Require direct care staff who are providing health-related services to persons with developmental disabilities or traumatic brain injury to call the 911 emergency telephone service for assistance anytime one of their patients experiences a life-threatening emergency and to report the call to the appropriate State agency or department.

"End Medicare funding to healthcare providers who fail to implement these regulations.

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