Patient, advocate, educator, friend—Judy Ashton has been all of these and more to the behavioral healthcare community at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH). Drawing from her patient experience and background as an attorney, Ashton became the first peer support volunteer in the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient psychiatry programs.
“It’s a profound experience to share what I’ve learned with people who are dealing with awful situations because of psychiatric illness,” says Ashton, whose volunteering during the past eight years totals more than 3,000 hours. “Spending time at BWFH, I see how the quality of care increases when physicians, nurses, therapists, peer support, and patients are all respected members of the care team.”
This past year, Ashton made a generous philanthropic commitment to three efforts in BWFH psychiatry. She established the Ashton Family Psychiatry Endowment for the peer support program and continued her annual support of the therapeutic music program. In addition, she is fueling renovations to the inpatient unit, which will include two new private patient rooms, improvements to dining and common areas, and an outdoor terrace—which was completed last fall.
“Psychiatric illnesses are isolating and devastate patients’ lives,” says Ashton. “Improving the care environment can restore a sense of community, empowerment, and hope for these courageous people.”