Marler honored for commitment to compassion during COVID pandemic

marler bedside 2022 streamMarler donned PPE to visit patients' bedsides during the pandemic. AMANDA CHAMBERS By Brooke Carbo

Malcolm Marler, D.Min., chaplain and senior director of UAB Pastoral Care, was honored in February with the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values. Marler was selected from among the 12 2021 UAB VIP Award honorees, whose work consistently exemplifies and embodies UAB’s shared values of integrity, stewardship, collaboration, accountability, respect, excellence and achievement, and diversity and inclusion.

In an online presentation, UAB President Ray Watts recognized Marler for his response “in the earliest and darkest days of the pandemic,” when chaplains were separated from patients by a glass partition.

“Reverend Marler would place his hands on the glass and say a quiet prayer ... to comfort and encourage our patients,” Watts said. “I don’t know any image that conveys more strongly our shared values, our compassion and our character.”

Marler spent time in clinic to better understand what patients were experiencing and learned the safety measures that would enable him and his team of 30 chaplains to resume bedside visits. Marler’s efforts allowed his team to be present at the bedside of patients who needed comfort and helped make it possible for all staff chaplains to be properly fitted for and trained with N95 masks and other personal protective equipment.

He understood the importance of a face-to-face human connection, says Laura Kowalczyk, vice president for Supply Chain and Support Services.

marler 22 streamMalcolm Marler, D.Min.“This was a huge relief not only for our patients but also for their families and our staff who were bearing so much of the stress for all of the care — physical, emotional and spiritual,” Kowalczyk said.

Throughout the battle against COVID-19, Marler has been “a pillar of strength” for UAB medical staff, said Vice President of Clinical Support Services Sarah Nafziger, M.D. When the pandemic first hit, she recalls his showing up to pray with those on the front lines and offer a calming word of encouragement. 

“It meant a lot to us in the command center in those early days when we were scared,” Nafziger said. “He’s been there every step of the way with us.”

The inaugural President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values was presented in January 2021 to 10 faculty and 10 staff members who were recognized for demonstrating UAB’s Shared Values during the 2020 COVID-19 global pandemic. The award was then incorporated into the UAB Values in Action Program, formerly the UAB Employee of the Month/Year Program.

Under the rebranded program, the President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values has replaced the former UAB Employee of the Year Award. Marler is the first UAB VIP Award recipient to receive the President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values under the UAB Values in Action Program.    

Visit the UAB Values in Action Program online to learn more.