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"Stephen's Law" would require medical providers to notify authorized guardians of signs of relapse

Senate passes "Stephen's Law"
Posted at 5:49 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 17:49:23-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Stephen Canastraro may have had his own battles to fight, but his family always came first.

"Even if he wasn't happy inside, he displayed happiness 'cause he just wanted us to be happy. That was his first main goal," said his sister, Stephanie Baskerville

"In the deepest, darkest times of his journey, like my sister said, we would ask him how he would be doing and the first thing he said {was} no I want to know how you're doing. I want to make sure you're good," said his brother Anthony Canastraro.

Stephen was receiving treatment for chemical dependence through the Save the Michaels program. He died in August 2018 after he relapsed.

Both his mother, Angela Robertson, and Save the Michaels were on his guardian consent form. However, neither were notified of his missed doctor appointments, or positive drug tests before he died.

Angela said she asked the director of the facility where he was being treated why she wasn't notified.

"The answer I got was 'I don't know.' And again I just simply said, as we both teared up in her office, we have to fix this," said Angela.

Under the laws at the time, health providers were not required to inform authorized guardians of relapse signs.

Canastraro's sister, Stephanie, said they were ready to step in and help in case of a relapse. They had out-of-state facilities lined up, all they needed was a phone call, but it never came.

"He would have been on a plane the very next day," said Stephanie.

This week the bill called "Stephen's Law" passed in the state Senate. It would ensure communication between treatment facilities, and patients families.

This would allow them to intervene and provide extra support. Something Stephen's family was ready to do but never got the chance.

The bill still needs to be passed by the Assembly and signed by the governor.