Marilyn Prier, MPH, BSN, RN graduated from the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Nursing in 1986. She immediately began her career at Children’s of Alabama where she worked for 37 years. Marilyn’s life has been committed to ensuring that children have a healthy and happy life, whether at her job as a registered nurse at Children’s of Alabama or at home raising her four sons and enjoying her fifteen grandchildren.
Upon graduation, Marilyn’s first position as a registered nurse was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where she worked for two years. She left Children’s for two years to work in home healthcare. After receiving a call from a friend, she returned to Children’s and became the discharge planner for the inpatient units. The CNO, Supora Thomas, had a vision for two big initiatives and she charged Marilyn with this task. There were families whose children were discharged with a risk to suddenly stop breathing. Marilyn put together a program to ensure that staff on the inpatient units could conduct CPR teaching for these families so they could intervene in these crucial moments. She worked with a team reaching out to community partners and donors to supply CPR teaching kits over the years and this program remains in place today.
Another very important initiative was child passenger safety. It was often discovered that parents did not have a car seat to safely get their child home upon discharge from the hospital. Marilyn and her colleagues developed a program to identify these families and provide them with an appropriate child passenger safety seat. Over the years Marilyn and her teammates became certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, installing car seats and ensuring that families knew how to safety install their own seat. The program has grown over many years and at the present time Children’s has a donor who supplies seats free of charge for families who are discharged from the hospital and in need of a car seat. Another group of patients in need of car seats were patients with spica (body) casts or other physical or structural limitations. These patients required a specialized car seat and again Marilyn and her team worked to ensure that a safe seat was acquired. Since specialty car seats are very expensive and not needed for much longer than a few months, a loaner program was developed so that families could transport their child safely without the worry of additional expenses.
After a few years in the discharge planner role, Marilyn’s commitment to patient education prompted her transfer to the CHECK Center (Comprehensive Health Education Center for Kids) where she worked on developing printed patient health and education material for the hospital. In partnership with BlueCross and BlueShield of Alabama, Marilyn was instrumental in creating the curriculum and design for an interactive mobile unit called Body Trek. Thousands of school age children have been given the opportunity to visit Body Trek. In the unit they learned how the human body works and important safety practices such as always wearing a seat belt and always wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle. Marilyn partnered with local schools of nursing to provide nursing students the opportunity to serve as volunteers with Body Trek while teaching the them the importance of teaching safety in the community.
In 2002, Marilyn returned to school and obtained a Master of Public Health degree. This enabled Marilyn to grow and develop as a leader at Children’s of Alabama. In 2006 Marilyn accepted the position as the Department Director for the CHECK Center. The center later changed names to Patient Health and Safety Information. She continued working on many initiatives including developing a strong liaison program between Children’s of Alabama and the Alabama Association of School Nurses and the Alabama State Department of Education’s School Nurse Administrator. Children’s began providing annual educational sessions during the summer months so school nurses could obtain continuing education credits and stay on top of the many changing trends and treatment with school aged children.
Marilyn is a strong advocate for child health and safety. She was instrumental in developing partnerships that helped bring many programs into the schools and communities. She also facilitated many new programs supporting staff inside the hospital. Some of the programs she worked with are:
- Kids on the Block – a national program which used puppets to educate students about peers with different abilities, disabilities and diseases. The focus was on tolerance and diversity amongst their groups.
- Smoke House – a mobile unit funded by the Junior League of Birmingham that taught students about fire safety and how to escape from a burning house
- Scoliosis Screening – this program was a national mandate to assess adolescents for scoliosis. Marilyn and her team worked with local schools of nursing to provide scoliosis screenings in the middle schools around Birmingham
- Safe Sitter Inc. – this national program prepares school age children how to be safe at home alone or while babysitting. Marilyn and her department staff taught this program at the hospital campus.
- Hand in Hand for Fitness – a program whereby Marilyn and her team worked with donors to provide fitness equipment to elementary schools
- Community CPR classes
- Get Well Network – an interactive program available on smart TVs throughout the new inpatient bed tower. This program has information for families on way finding, new diagnosis teaching and videos, as well as movies for the patients to watch.
- Daisy – this program is a recognition program specifically for nurses
- Safety store – opened in the patient health and safety department where child and home safety items were sold.
Marilyn retired in April of 2021 from a lifetime career of advocating for child safety. She has been an instrumental force in nursing leadership at Children’s of Alabama.