The Late Carlos Gomez, MD to be Honored With the NHF Humanitarian Leadership Award for his Efforts to Improve Pediatric Palliative Care

For Immediate Release:
March 21, 2011

(Alexandria, VA) – In recognition of the dedication and passion he brought to the care of critically ill children, Dr. Carlos Gomez will receive the Humanitarian Leadership Award from the National Hospice Foundation at the NHF gala on April 8, 2011.

His advocacy efforts to ensure that all children and their families facing life-limiting illness had access to high quality hospice and palliative care led to the creation of the District of Columbia Pediatric Palliative Care Collaboration. Through the work of the DCPPCC, Gomez was responsible for initiating the policy changes that allow terminally ill children in Washington, DC to receive hospice services while still seeking treatment-focused care.  

This vision for expanded access to compassionate care at life’s end was a driving force throughout his professional career.

In his work with the DCPPCC, Gomez concentrated on more than advocacy efforts and teaching dimensions of this vision. He provided care for children and the families throughout the Washington, DC area, devoting endless hours providing home-based care and support for children and their families.

The award is being made posthumously, as Gomez died in 2010. His loss was profoundly felt in the hospice community.

After his death, the National Hospice and Palliative Organization stepped in to help the DCPPCC continue the work of ensuring that children in DC have access to palliative and hospice care services.  In bringing this vision to fruition, NHPCO and DCPPCC created tools and resources that benefit all pediatric palliative care advocates around the country.

“Carlos deeply believed that his work, which was his passion, was crucial to assisting people who were facing not the end but a moment of transition,” said Susan Rogers, a colleague, cofounder of DCPPCC, and personal friend. “He devoted himself to sharing with other medical professionals his commitment to learn more about palliative care for the patient, and compassionate, supportive care for the families and loved ones.”

Born in Havana, Cuba, Gomez came to the United States with his family when he was a young boy. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, he also received a PhD from the University of Chicago, School of Public Policy. In his post-graduate training, Gomez specialized in medical ethics, eventually focusing on hospice and palliative care. Before coming to the DC area, he served as the medical director of the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care at the University of Virginia.  

“For those of us fortunate enough to have known and worked with Carlos, his passion and dedication to the field was apparent in all that he did. Yet he was a man of uncommon intelligence who was successful at integrating contemporary medical science with a profound respect for human dignity,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHF president and CEO.

The Humanitarian Leadership Award recognizes those who address the needs of society’s most vulnerable populations. Honorees personify the spirit of compassion and whether their humanitarian efforts are rooted in wealth or work, they are always with incredible heart. Our world is most certainly a better place because of their love of humankind.

The award will be received on behalf of Gomez by his family on April 8, 2011 during the evening’s program of NHF’s seventh annual gala, From Sea to Shining Sea: An American Celebration of Hospice Care. For more information about the gala, visit donate.nationalhospicefoundation.org/Gala2011.

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