• The San Juan Daily Star

Comprehensive Cancer Center now bears the name of Héctor Ferrer Ríos

The Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico now bears the name of Héctor Ferrer Ríos, the former representative and former president of the Popular Democratic Party, who died of cancer in November 2018. (Photo by Pedro Correa Henry)

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

The administration of the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico officialized on Thursday the naming of the center after the former representative and former president of the Popular Democratic Party, Héctor Ferrer Ríos, who passed away on November 5, 2018 after a long battle against cancer.

The center, which has the mission to tackle cancer, one of the first causes of death in Puerto Rico, and provide patient care service using techniques that integrate research, prevention, early detection and treatment for a better quality of life, was created under Law 230-2004. Ferrer Ríos was one of the authors of House Bill 4854, which became that law.

“From that moment [the bill became a law], a group of investigators and health professionals started working hard to establish public policies about prevention, education, investigation, diagnosis, clinical services and treatments related to cancer in Puerto Rico,” said Dr. Marcia Cruz Correa, who is an oncological gastroenterologist and executive director of the center.

Cruz Correa also recognized Ferrer Ríos’ effort as a public servant and one who “fought with great spirit, leaving a priceless legacy.”

“Father, son, brother, he was a man of excellence. … We honor his memory,” she said.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said he has great respect for the lawmaker, who he noted possessed a “firm and courteous style, who was guided by clear principles and who always put the welfare of Puerto Rico first.”

Pierluisi added that even though he and Ferrer Ríos had their differences on political issues, such as the island’s status, both shared the same love for public service, for the island, and for jogging and exercising, as Ferrer Ríos was well known for participating at the Ironman Triathlon.

“We always had a friendly relationship,” the governor said. “He was a genuine, upright and hard-working; his career speaks for itself and it is appropriate to pay tribute to his memory in a structure that he himself envisioned as possible, which he worked for, and which he dreamed for our people to have access to the best treatment possible for an illness he fought against like a champion.”

Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Cancer Center’s board of directors president, William Méndez Latalladí, said Puerto Rico “lost a young and brilliant man.”

“He’s a father of a cause and a mission that is represented in a center that seeks to be a place of excellence,” Méndez Latalladí said.

Ferrer Ríos’ son, Rep. Héctor Férrer Santiago, had the chance to speak and recognized his father for teaching him to be truthful, courteous with his opponents, and “to serve and not be served.”

Likewise, San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero celebrated Ferrer Ríos’ career, his friendship, and his effort to realize a project they both worked for.

“Yes, it is an emotional, but also a thoughtful day, but when you go to sleep, before anything else, please ask to always live more,” said the author of the law that created the center that now carries Ferrer Ríos’ name.

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