Photo: Lou Alvarez and his sister, Aida.
Video highlights how hospice helped Lou Alvarez, the 9/11 first responder who testified on Capitol Hill weeks before he died.
NHPCO released a new video – My Legacy, My Hospice: Lou’s Story – on Monday, November 4, 2019, featuring Lou Alvarez, a 9/11 first responder who testified on Capitol Hill in June of 2019 to advocate for passage of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The video is part of the organization’s My Hospice campaign.
In the video, viewers meet Lou Alvarez, an NYPD detective who responded to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Lou spent three months at Ground Zero in the recovery effort. Then, in 2016, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, a direct result of his time spent in the toxic fumes. Immediately following his diagnosis, he became an advocate for fellow 9/11 first responders, encouraging them to get checked by the doctor yearly and to sign up for benefits through the World Trade Center Health Program.
In June of 2019, despite being severely ill, Lou made a trip to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress to encourage passage of the Victim Compensation Fund. His testimony on Capitol Hill went viral and his words and fighting spirit inspired many around the world. Days after his testimony, Lou was told by doctors that continuing treatment would be futile, and he was admitted to Catholic Health Services of Long Island’s Good Shepherd Hospice.
Through expert care and support, hospice helped Lou continue his fight to advocate for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and even arranged television interviews from his hospice room. The team at Good Shepherd Hospice ensured that Lou was able to maintain dignity, comfort, and support while being surrounded by his loved ones and the many visitors he received in his final weeks.
“We really created the space to allow him to be him,” said Good Shepherd Hospice Nurse Josephine O’Connor, RN. “Baseball cap, kids at the bedside, mom bringing in food.”
“We honor Lou Alvarez. He was a veteran and first responder, and he immediately jumped to action on 9/11,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach. “We are proud to share his hospice story and continue his message to ensure that all 9/11 first responders get the care that they deserve.”
Hospices in the New York tri-state area are seeing more 9/11 first responders being admitted to their service because of time spent at Ground Zero; most patients have a cancer diagnosis.
Lou’s Story is part of the My Hospice campaign – an initiative to educate policymakers and their constituents about the value of the Medicare hospice benefit. Hospice and palliative care are both person-centered models of care that address patients’ physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and familial needs. Both hospice and palliative care utilize interdisciplinary teams of providers who optimize quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering.
To learn more, go to MyHospiceCampaign.org