Remembering Simon Margolis
- By Laurie Watanabe
- Jul 27, 2016
In early 2002, there was no “complex rehab,” only “rehab.” Even that word looked different than it does today; it was punctuated, as in “re/hab.”
Into that environment, our magazine Mobility Management was launched. Back then, all of home-based mobility was our focus. That meant consumer power chairs, scooters and walkers. Lots of walkers.
But from the beginning, the complex rehab community – clinicians and rehab technology suppliers (RTS) – embraced Mobility Management as their own. The DME industry was embroiled in Operation Wheeler Dealer, and rehab providers were suffering from having their much more complex and customized technology lumped together with off-the-shelf consumer power chairs being advertised on late-night TV. Rehab had a separate identity and needed to be correctly defined.
Among those who grabbed hold of Mobility Management in its infancy was Simon Margolis, at that time the VP of clinical and professional development for National Seating & Mobility.
From the beginning, Simon was a towering, omnipresent figure to me. He seemed to be anywhere and everywhere his industry needed him, to speak passionately about the clinical side of complex rehab, to give an unvarnished provider perspective, and increasingly to address the policy and funding segments that were becoming near-constant forms of frustration.
One of the earliest talks I heard from Simon included his hot dog cart metaphor: If we all sold hot dogs instead of rehab technology, he said, we’d get paid cash as soon as we delivered each hot dog, and we could cover the costs of our hot dogs immediately instead of waiting 90 days.
Simon wasn’t initially impressed with Mobility Management and its generous coverage of commodes and steel wheelchairs, and he wasn’t shy about telling me so. Simon wanted a magazine of depth and expertise, one that understood and was devoted to rehab. The fact that such a magazine wasn’t our goal at the start was beside the point. It was what Simon wanted.
He looked more like a prophet with every passing year, as Mobility Management devoted more and more pages to rehab and eventually adopted complex rehab technology as its central focus. One of the happiest moments of my early years as editor came when Simon said to me, “You’re getting there. We still have work to do, but you’re getting there.”
As for Simon, he continued to be larger than life to me, a member of rehab royalty who knew everyone and seemingly everything. He left National Seating & Mobility and eventually became executive director of NRRTS. When our paths crossed at industry events, he would occasionally give me an approving nod. “Better,” he would say, offering a hug instead of the handshakes of earlier years. “Not there yet, but better.”
What can I say, Simon? You were right all along when you said complex rehab should be our focus. You were right the thousand or more times you held up complex rehab as an industry of extraordinary people serving an extraordinary populace. And you were right when you said we still have work to do.
Your mark on complex rehab, like the memory we have of you, is indelible. Thank you for absolutely everything.
Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.