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'I Have the Most Terrible Thing to Tell You. They Killed Laura'

Weeks after his wife's death, Peter DeMarco learned the truth
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2018 5:03 PM CST
Updated Nov 18, 2018 3:22 PM CST
An empty hospital corridor is seen in this stock photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – There's a good chance you heard Peter DeMarco's story. Or, at least, the first version of it. The Massachusetts man received national press after a heartfelt thank-you he wrote to the employees of CHA Cambridge Hospital was published in the New York Times. In it, he extolled the kindness of the staff who treated his 34-year-old wife, Laura Levis, who died in September 2016 following a severe asthma attack. A few weeks after it was published came the call from his father-in-law: "Pete, I have the most terrible thing to tell you. They killed Laura." In an extremely detailed piece for the Boston Globe Magazine, DeMarco explains how that is: The hospital in question wasn't CHA Cambridge Hospital, where she was transferred and ultimately died, but the sister hospital she went to first: Somerville Hospital.

Around 4am on Sept. 16, 2016, Laura began having an asthma attack and walked to the ER for treatment. DeMarco bares all, explaining he wasn't with her that night because they were having marriage issues and were spending the night apart, with plans to meet for coffee in the morning. She arrived at the ER alone, found the door locked, called 911, and clearly explained exactly where she was. She began to walk to a second door 100 feet away but the attack became too much. She was just 29 feet from the door. DeMarco details the series of failings that led to his wife's needless death—how the 911 call was routed, the outdated nature of the 911 system's location tracking abilities, and Nurse X's cursory look for Levis outside the door. When DeMarco got to the hospital that morning, he was told, "She was in the last place they looked." It was only later that he learned the truth. His full story is worth a read. (Read the story of his thank-you note here.)

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