Elizabeth “Betsy” Walls, RN, the retired Director of Personal Health for the Chester County Health Department whose efforts helped to establish the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Program and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in Chester County, has been honored with a much-deserved award from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Betsy is recognized as Pennsylvania’s PHEP Trailblazer, in celebration of CDC’s 20th anniversary of the PHEP program and Walls’ decades-long service to public health.
Commenting on the well-deserved honor, Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline said, “Betsy has served as a dedicated public health professional for decades, and Chester County was privileged to have her as part of the Health Department leadership team for nearly 20 years. Clearly her passion to care and protect for our communities did not stop with ‘retirement’ and she continues to actively serve as a medical volunteer in both Chester and Delaware Counties.
“In particular, Betsy helped to lead Chester County’s Medical Reserve Corps actions throughout the pandemic, including immense support for Delaware County, and she continues to work as an MRC Volunteer for Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia Counties.”
Jeanne Franklin, Director of the Chester County Health Department, said, “The Chester County Health Department admires Betsy as a dedicated healthcare worker, volunteer, and a friend. The honor bestowed to her by CDC is much deserved and we are grateful to have had her as a team member for many years.
“Betsy earned the title of ‘rock star’ from our staff and she is a cherished part of the Health Department family.”
Walls is a graduate of the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing and Widener University Graduate School of Nursing and Business. She went on to serve the Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Nursing, Nurse Administration and Nurse Education for over 30 years and Penn Medicine Chester County as a Nursing Supervisor for seven years. Included in her illustrious career is a decade of service as a Flight Nurse for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. Cuba, Germany and Japan were just a few of the places Walls traveled to as a Flight Nurse.
Her commitment to public service continued through the Chester County Health Department, where she served as Director of Personal Health for 18 years. During her time at the Health Department, Walls was intrinsic in creating Chester County’s Medical Countermeasures Program (formerly the Strategic National Stockpile program) which brought together partners throughout the county to dispense medical countermeasures to county residents, employees and visitors if needed. She also helped to establish Chester County’s MRC and was part of the County’s health and emergency response for incidents including Hurricanes Floyd, Isabel and Sandy, the ice storm that crippled Chester County for days in 2014, and completed well over 600 hours of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked about her extensive career in nursing and public health, Walls said, “I loved everything I did during my time at the Health Department. There was nothing that I didn't like, and I’ve loved every day in nursing.
“Every experience has been a positive for me. Every experience has been different,” she added, while highlighting the support and skills of her colleagues throughout her career.
“Above all else, Betsy recognized the importance of planning and training for any type of public health emergency, and she helped to lead countless trainings and exercises across the southeast PA region,” said Franklin.
Walls has also held several notable leadership roles, previously serving as President of the Delaware County Nurse Association, Pennsylvania Nursing Association, and President of the Pennsylvania Nurses Foundation. Her assistance with the development and implementation of volunteer education operations has contributed greatly to Chester and Delaware counties’ vaccination efforts.