Peaceful, friendly assisting living in Lake Crystal
By Carlienne A. Frisch
Many of us reach a time in our lives when continuing to live in our home becomes too great of a challenge. Leaving one’s home may not be easy, but a pleasant solution to the problem is to make the move to a new home at Crystal Seasons Living Center.
Crystal Seasons is an assisted living located in the beautiful and peaceful community of Lake Crystal, a city of 2,500 people (and five churches) in Blue Earth County. Yet it’s just 12 miles from the urban center of Mankato and minutes from doctors and hospitals. Crystal Seasons is where care and customer service come together.
One of Crystal Seasons tenants, Barb Owens, raised her family in Lake Crystal. After becoming a widow, she decided to sell her home but hoped to stay in a familiar place.
“I visited Crystal Seasons and thought it was very nice,” she said. “I like everything about it. The accommodations are terrific and the food is very good. I take all three of my meals in the dining room.”
Owens enjoys the social aspects of living at Crystal Seasons.
“I like people and enjoy sitting after a meal and visiting,” she said. “I like to sit and walk on the patio. I try to walk around the block every day. In the winter, I can walk in the underground garage, which is heated.”
Another aspect Owens appreciates is the staff.
“They are excellent—very kind,” she said.
The team at Crystal Seasons includes Leesa Gilman, who serves as the vice president of assisted living, and Sarah Hall, the assisted living director. Other staff include Bonnie Prom, the therapeutic recreational director, and Erin Schultz, the regional director of business development. Each feels a strong connection to the building’s tenants. Gilman, who grew up in Lake Crystal, watched as the former high school building on the site was torn down about 12 years ago to make way for construction of Crystal Seasons, which is managed by Monarch Health Care Management.
“I watched Crystal Seasons being built while I was a university student getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree,” said Gilman. “Then I worked in a nursing home for a year before coming here as the housing director. My favorite part of the job here is getting to know the tenants and being able to make connections with them and for them. We have a requirement of our dress code for every employee—and a smile is part of your uniform.”
Hall agreed, saying, “Most tenants do get visitors, but not everyone has someone, so just being there for them is important—encouraging them to participate in activities, meeting their social and emotional needs. I ensure that their concerns are heard. They may have questions about nursing or even what to choose for lunch.”
Although about half of the tenants drive their own cars, others use local transportations for rides to and from appointments, shopping and the visits to the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center.
“We have tenants who have lived here for 10 years,” said Gilman. “Our goal is to provide care throughout the rest of their lives so those without significant health issues might live here 10 or 15 years. This is their home. They can be on hospice and need full care every day.”
Of the 30 staff in the building, about one-third are nursing.
One of the first things many Crystal Seasons tenants see every day is the smiling face of Sarah Hall.
“The first thing I do every morning is walk around the building and say ‘good morning’ to the tenants who are at breakfast and to the staff,” she said.
Hall became acquainted with some of the tenants when she worked in the billing office.
“I always knew I could offer more, and I wanted to have a more personal relationship with our tenants,” she said. “My biggest thing is keeping everyone happy.”
Bonnie Prom, the therapeutic recreational director, plans a wide range of activities, including craft sessions, card games and bingo with prizes, as well as baking opportunities using the small oven in Hall’s office.
“I organize activities for each day,” said Prom. “What I like about it is that I can put a smile on peoples’ faces every day and make them laugh. I think laughing is a good medicine for them, so if I can accomplish that, it makes me happy.”
A couple of years ago, Prom took some tenants -- four women and a man -- to Fairmont.
“I drove the Monarch bus, which seats 14, to one of the lakes there,” she said. “We went fishing on a pontoon. People from a volunteer organization there assisted with baiting hooks, taking fish off the hook and helping us get on the pontoon.”
Planned outings for this summer include going out to lunch, visiting the bison at Minneopa State Park, fishing from a landing and a visit to the holiday lights exhibit in Mankato’s Sibley Park during the Christmas season. Other activities include grill outs and picnics, ice cream socials, occasional lunch buffets with interesting ethnic themes, such as southwestern or Italian.
In addition to a full breakfast each morning, there is also a continental breakfast available daily. Couples who reside at Crystal Seasons can dine together and are celebrated on their wedding anniversary.
Entertainment for tenants includes movies and music.
“Our tenants love Western movies or vintage films,” said Hall. “For those who want to play the piano, or just listen, there’s a piano in the dining room. One tenant moved her piano into her apartment and continued giving piano lessons. She held her piano recitals here, and we provided refreshments for the music students’ families and any tenant who chose to attend.”
The connections Crystal Seasons has with the Lake Crystal community benefit both the tenants and the town.
“We sponsor activities such as the Lake Crystal Area Fast Pitch Association and the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Booster Club. Before COVID, young Lake Crystal Elementary School students would walk to our building and gave a singing performance. We plan to have that resume,” said Hall.
Crystal Season is located at 222 South Murphy Street in Lake Crystal. It has 41 assisted living units -- two bedroom, one bedroom and studio rooms. There is immediate availibility.
“Crystal Seasons is that place you call home—always a welcoming environment,” said Hall.
For more information, call 507-726-2266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, monarchmn.com/crystal-seasons.
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