My Hospice: Luis Alvarez’s Story
Last summer, the presence of former NYPD detective Luis Alvarez became more visible as he testified before Congress for the passage of the bill that he was named for: “Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.” Awareness of Detective Alvarez’ honor and bravery continues to grow. A recent video tribute is one such example.
“My Hospice: Lou’s Story,” is a video tribute to Detective Alvarez which was produced by Amanda Bows, Director of Marketing for the Palliative Care Organization. In a time frame of little more than five minutes, a powerfully moving true story comes to life as Detective Alvarez’ sister Aida and brother Phil relate their memories from September 11, 2001, to his fight on Capitol Hill for the passage of the bill, to his final days.
“It’s what I have to do and what I want to do,” Aida remembers Luis saying after she begged him not to go to Ground Zero on the day of the tragedy, where he worked for three months.
“He was there for 12-hour tours,” Phil stated. “There was no other place he wanted to be…even if they told us the air was bad, or as bad as it was, we would have still been down there.”
Detective Alvarez was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2016 – 15 years after his service at Ground Zero. As he began receiving treatments for his cancer, he started an online blog. The purpose of this blog was twofold: It served as a record of each treatment session and as a platform to encourage other first responders to get checked for the possibility of a 9/11 cancer or related illness.
Detective Alvarez entered into hospice care at Good Shepherd Hospice & Catholic Home Care on Long Island shortly after appearing before Congress, where he received physical, emotional, and spiritual hospice care and comfort in his final days. Although physically weak, he was empowered to continue participating in interviews even during his hospice care because of the fact the “Never Forget the Heroes” bill had not passed. “That’s my ultimate goal…legacy…is to have this bill passed…so first responders have the coverage that they need.”
Although Detective Alvarez did not live to see this day, his legacy became a reality on July 12, 2019 when the “Never Forget the Heroes” act passed.
“My little brother just wanted to do the right thing for others,” Phil states of Luis’ efforts. And Phil continues this legacy, serving as the Director of 9/11 Outreach and Education for the Zadroga Act lawyers of Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP. He presented this video tribute at a conference for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization to spread awareness of the resources, including hospice care services, that all survivors of 9/11 are eligible for. There are several hospice care services available through the World Trade Center Health Program. Once you have your condition certified by the World Trade Center Health Program, you are afforded free lifetime medical care.
“We can’t tell them that they have to give up fighting. We can’t tell them that they have to give up hope…the fight is for something different,” Josephine O’Conner, a registered nurse with Good Shepherd Hospice & Catholic Home Care says when counseling and attending to patients who are afflicted with a 9/11 cancer.
Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP also believes in never giving up hope as well as the fight. If you were in the vicinity of Ground Zero between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, we urge you register with the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), regardless of whether or not you have become sick as a result of exposure to the contaminated air and toxins. Unfortunately, it may take years for a 9/11-related illness to manifest. Contact us at 1- 800-887-7299 or visit our website for an online chat. Together, we can determine your eligibility for healthcare benefits through the World Trade Center Health Program.
Watch the full video of “My Hospice: Lou’s Story” here.
Remember – never give up hope or the fight.Posted under: First Responders