“Long term care is my passion. That’s my life. I don’t have any interest in doing anything else.”
So says Crystal Jasper, the Director of Clinical Services at NewAldaya Lifescapes.
She began her journey at age 16 when a friend encouraged her to attend CNA (Certified Nursing Aide) classes. The friend was a health care administrator herself. Jasper worked with her at the Lutheran Home, now NewAldaya, her first few years on the job.
“The only job I have ever had has been in nursing facilities,” Jasper said. “I immediately fell in love with the elderly and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
For those thinking there isn’t any opportunity to advance in the nursing field, hear about Jasper’s progression. She earned her CNA, LPN and RN degrees from Hawkeye College and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing online. She has performed the roles of Rehab Aide, Medication Aide, LPN, Skin Nurse Manager, RN, Nursing Supervisor, Assistant Director of Nursing, Director of Nursing, Administrator of Nursing facility and Administrator of Outpatient Therapy Clinic before moving into her current position five years ago.
“When I was 16 I wanted nothing more than after school to go in and take care of the residents,” she said. “My mom told me that one day there was a bad snowstorm and they didn’t want me driving because it was about a 15-to-20-minute drive to work. I told her I needed to go because they needed me.
“I have a special place in my heart for the elderly. They all have their own story and I love getting to know them. Each one is so special and so different. If you listen to them talk, they have amazing things they can tell you. They basically are your second family.”
Jasper acknowledges that the past year has “been tough” because of COVID.
“There have been a lot of hours worked – a lot of changes every single day and trying to keep up with it. We’re trying to keep everyone safe, trying to make the families comfortable when they can’t see (loved ones). We built an outdoor booth when the weather was nice for people to visit but winter was more challenging. We did face time and phone calls.”
Despite efforts, NewAldaya had a COVID outbreak at the beginning of May, another at the beginning of December. It had its first vaccination clinic in early January.
Jasper has been married 18 years and the couple has two daughters, ages 14 and 10. The eldest is considering making nursing a career.
The family enjoys camping at Prairie du Chien, spending all their time fishing. “That’s our get-away place,” she said. They also take an annual trip to Minnesota with her parents and siblings and stay in a cabin.
Jasper’s nominator as one of the 2021 Outstanding Nurses said, “Crystal is the perfect role model for anyone working in long term care and even those who are not. She is committed to her work while balancing family life. She not only shows great leadership qualities in the workplace but also in the community. She goes on class field trips at her children’s school, helps coach t-ball and basketball, volunteers at the golf outing fundraiser for the booster club, as well as leads the NewAldaya volunteer committee at Sturgis Falls.
“Crystal has been an amazing leader and mentor to our entire staff…She has played a huge role keeping our staff and residents safe and ensuring all requirements and regulations are met during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Despite some days working from the time she gets up in the morning until she goes to bed at night, Jasper says making health care a career is well worth it.
“When you know, you know,” she said. “If wavering, don’t be scared. Do it. There are things in place to keep you safe. You can have a lot of passion every single day like me. I love going to work.”