NEW YORK – Barbara Rogers was a doting grandmother and a former music producer, but many people in the DME industry knew her as a passionate advocate for the rights of respiratory patients and the disabled.
I met Barbara more than a decade ago at a respiratory conference. As a relative newcomer to the industry, I asked several basic questions about portable oxygen. Barbara herself was on oxygen, and she patiently showed me her O2 equipment and tubing. “You may be covering this industry for a long time,” she said. “If you are, you need to know what respiratory patients are experiencing.”
Later that same day, this tiny woman took the podium, and it was clear that she was a force to be reckoned with. I would see her speak on a few other occasions, and she never disappointed.
Barbara was the CEO of Respiratory Resources, and worked with countless other advocacy groups. She died on Dec 7, 2013, at the age of 66. The following tributes are but a sampling of the sentiments that attest to Barbara’s impact. She will be remembered, and she will be missed.
“Barbara made a real impact when I first met her. It was during an Advocacy Forum held at Medtrade, which I was asked to moderate. She was a member of the panel. Her intelligence and eloquence was matched by her passion as she explained the issues affecting respiratory patients, and how education was the key to driving good policy.
“She detailed story after story of how she caught the ear of a representative or senator, and how she would not take ‘no’ for an answer. She was a role model for getting things done, She will be missed. She was a fine lady with a lot to say. She had a long struggle, but never complained.”
— Georgie Blackburn, vice president, Government Relations and Legislative Affairs, BLACKBURN’S, Tarentum, Pa
“I first met Barbara at the Medicare complex in Baltimore, during the round one rebid. She was a member of the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC). In 2011, I participated in a Congressional briefing with her and Professor Peter Cramton, economist from the University of Maryland.
“I was always impressed with her knowledge of the operational side of our business, and how Medicare’s dysfunctional bidding program and other poor policies affected beneficiaries. Stricken with a severe pulmonary ailment, she rarely talked about her own struggles. She always talked about how other, less fortunate, home-bound patients were affected by limited access to quality products and timely services. Always upbeat and grateful, she was inspirational. She spoke from the heart.”
— Rob Brant, director of Industry Relations, American Association for Homecare
“The advocacy world lost a major voice late last year with the death of Barbara Rogers. Barbara was the chair of the Medtrade Consumer Advocacy Steering Group. Barbara worked tirelessly on behalf of patient rights and helping to ensure their access to the best equipment. She was an inspiration to work with, a dear friend, and an amazing advocate.”
— Kevin Gaffney, group show director, Medtrade
“This tiny, powerful woman was a bulldog when it came to protecting patients’ access to home care services, and not afraid to stand up to Senators or tough Hill staffers. Barbara was very giving of her own time, and available around the clock. She applied her past unique experience as one of the first women in a male-dominated industry of music production to the health care segment.
“As a sought-after speaker around the globe, she actively engaged in whatever she did—such as the PAOC, Lovelace Medical Center Board, the International Ventilator User Network—and other advisory roles. Barbara never let her own health condition get her down, and she traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, using oxygen while she flew and bi-level at night, while relying on providers nationwide to help her get from point A to point B. She tested just about every oxygen system, giving feedback about the pros and cons of each. That kind of legacy will help patients long after her passing.”
— Lisa M. Getson, executive vice president, Government Relations and Corporate Compliance, Apria
“Barbara Rogers was an extraordinary woman. I had the privilege of getting to know her as a friend and a colleague. She was a respiratory patient advocate in word and practice. As an advocate she served on many respiratory related committees with many respected organizations. She was a member of the Homecare Network of the American College of Chest Physicians where she spoke on subjects useful to patients that included traveling with a ventilator and even sex.
“The medical community gained special knowledge from her of what a respiratory patient experiences. She delivered all information with knowledge, personal experience, humor, and tact. She was honored to be a recipient of the Margaret Pfommer Memorial Award in Long Term Mechanical Ventilation in 2010. We broke bread together with other friends and colleagues. It was a delight.
“She rarely missed a meeting. She seemed to always be there at the Exhibit Halls and the talks. She traveled the world in spite of her respiratory limitations. Nothing stopped her. She worked for various respiratory equipment manufacturers, and she could tell people how the devices aided her. She was a model for active living as a person with respiratory challenges.
“She was a New Yorker through and through. Aside from her very active professional life, she was a doting grandmother to her grandchildren who live in San Diego, and to whom she managed to visit frequently. What an inspiring woman. She is dearly missed. I’m still going to be looking around to find her at the meetings. I think she will always be there.”
— Diana Guth, RRT, owner, Home Respiratory Care, Los Angeles
“Barbara was a sweet, passionate, intelligent, energetic lady. As a patient, she had a perspective on home care that most of us who work in the field don’t have. She was a tireless advocate and will be missed.”
— Joe Lewarski, vice president of clinical affairs at Invacare, Elyria, Ohio
“Barbara was an amazing advocate for this industry and the oxygen patient community. Her tireless trips to DC working with me and others in the halls of Congress were inspiring. She was a terrific lady with a drive and personality that I will miss.”
— Thomas Ryan, president and CEO, American Association of Homecare, Washington, DC