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Tribute to Betsy Pillsbury

By eanderson

January 24, 2017

Betsy had a wonderful smile and an elegant way of speaking. Soft spoken but not shy, she pursued her passions. After eight years working with Partners HealthCare, Betsy left in December 2015 to follow her dream of painting. We were saddened to hear of her passing in June of 2016.

Woman in wheelchair staring into the eyes of a bronze duck sculpture with harbor in background.
Betsy Pillsbury outside Spaulding Hospital

When the REquipment Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program was funded as a pilot in greater Boston in 2013, we felt having an advisory committee of disability organizations and people with mobility disabilities would be essential to developing a program that meets the needs of the elder and disability communities.  One of the people I reached out to was Betsy Pillsbury. Although I didn’t know Betsy well, we had crossed paths many times at disability related events over the years.

Betsy was the disability resource coordinator for Partners, and herself a wheelchair user. She viewed REquipment as a way to fill a need for many individuals with disabilities hospitalized in Partners facilities who would need durable medical equipment upon discharge. Betsy agreed to be an advisory committee member and coordinated support for Spaulding to host an advisory meeting at their new facility in Charlestown. But Betsy took on a more active role in advocating for the program; she joined with a small group of committed disability advocates to meet with legislators to tell them about the value of the program to the community and the need to fund it statewide.

Betsy was able to convey her story and that of others she had known both personally and professionally in a way that demonstrated how the program improves the quality of life for people with mobility disabilities of all ages.  I am happy to say that as a result of her advocacy and that of others, the program received state funding last fiscal year.

Let us remember Betsy for her work on behalf of the hundreds of people who benefit from the reuse program every year.