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Marilyn A. Russell

2008 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree:  Marilyn A. Russell (1932-2007)

"Marilyn is a leader, a visionary, a women's advocate."
— Mary Weaver & Marilyn Warling, 2005

Marilyn Russell

Marilyn A. Russell, of Des Moines, was a determined leader and visionary in the home and community health industry. A nurse by training, she was the executive director of Visiting Nurse Services (VNS) of Des Monies for over 25 years. She advanced the role of nursing through her leadership and she improved the efficiency of the health care delivery system in central Iowa and throughout the state. Russell helped develop nomenclature for home care and public health, which became accepted by health care organizations and colleges nationally. It was her strong leadership that helped co-found the Iowa Assembly of Home Health Agencies, which is known today as Iowa Association for Home Care. She was voted by her peers to become the first chair of the board of Health Policy Corporation of Iowa in 1982 and was the first woman chair of the Iowa Health Systems Agency. She was instrumental in founding Hospice of Central Iowa in the 1970s, which was the first hospice in Iowa accredited by JACHO. She not only looked at system changes that were needed, she first looked at how the issues would affect the individual people. Russell unselfishly shared her vision with other nurses, administrators, and agencies, and provided them with needed inspiration and even computer software to help them provide and track services to Iowans. Her agency was the first to develop a computerized database for clinical nursing records, and she was a leader in developing the systems for cost analysis of nursing services. Much of her work continues to guide the public health nursing agencies of Iowa’s 99 counties and in neighboring states that utilize her systems or have benefited from her guidance and expertise. She was born on February 23, 1932, in Des Moines and died on March 24, 2007. Russell was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2008.