Our team shares a passion for creating an environment where lives can be affected for good. We have a combined 100 years of experience in providing best-in-class services for our seniors and we are excited to be here in Alaska!
We are here to provide whatever assistance is needed to care for our Seniors; to educate and inform as well as providing services when our services are required. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
I attended the University of Wyoming on a Volleyball scholarship where I earned my degree in Child and Family Services. Part of my graduation requirements was a 6 month internship program where I thought I would be placed in an environment to work with children. My ultimate goal was always to work with children and youth. Instead, I was placed in an assisted living facility helping to run the activities program. I had a great time and fell in love with those sweet residents but still did not feel it was the direction I should take in my career.
As luck would have it I had my oldest daughter the semester before I graduated and spent the next 20 years raising my family and being a stay at home mom. I coached club volleyball on the side as well as doing some catering, sold Pampered Chef and had several other flexible jobs I could do while raising my 4 kids. I was also highly active within my church and spent a significant amount of time coordinating and implementing week long youth retreats, working as a music chorister for the primary children and as an activities specialist for the women I served. I was even a cub master in the Boy Scout Program. Most recently I was working as a special needs para in an elementary school preschool. I loved working with those sweet little ones. I really felt like I had landed where I was supposed to be. Que a job opportunity for my husband in AK.
The whole move here felt surreal and I spent the first year just trying to settle in to my new reality and make sure my two teenage kids who came with us were getting the things they needed after such a big move. It didn’t take long to realize this was a home and state we were going to love. I felt ready to find my own purpose here in AK. I set about trying to find a job that I would not only be good at but that had meaning and purpose. The core of my nature is to serve and love and I wanted to find a job that was in need of my specific talent and abilities.
I knew when I walked through the doors at Aspen Creek I had found what I was looking for. My mother had a stroke when she was 62 and needed lots of care for the 16 years she lived with her new reality. 3 years before she passed my dad was diagnosed with ALS and again our world was rocked. So many questions about how he would be cared for how how his remaining time would look. Those experiences with my parents truly sensitized me to the plight of the elderly. The way they were treated by doctors and those they came in contact with all became a source of concern. Many times we had to fight for specific services and get help that no one felt was necessary. When I walked through the doors of Aspen Creek and met the staff and learned about their ideals and goals for the facility I knew it was a place I would have put my own parents and I wanted to be a part of it.
I’ve known from a young age that I wanted to work in healthcare. Compassion and patience have always been prominent characteristics of mine. Wanting to care and better others’ lives came naturally to me. Throughout my childhood I was asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I would respond with a doctor, a nurse or a mother. All of which I find to symbolize selflessness and compassion for others.
When I saw the large “we’re hiring” sign draped across our gorgeous building I knew this was a beacon. I wasted no time and instantly applied awaiting a response. Throughout the interview process I quickly concluded that I needed to be a part of this organization. I could feel the devotion and passion to do more for the seniors in our community. I love the values and goals we fulfill here at Aspen Creek each and every day.
Throughout my highschool years I enrolled in the Biomedical Career Academy and completed additional science classes to better my knowledge and prepare for college courses. I am currently attending the University of Alaska Anchorage and will begin my journey in the nursing program this fall. After graduating I intend to further my education in a specialized unit. When I started completing courses at UAA I had envisioned myself specializing in the neonatal intensive care unit. I viewed infants as the most in need of care and someone to advocate for them. Since working at Aspen Creek my vision of my future nursing endeavours has swayed. I have fallen in love with geriatrics and can see myself continuing working closely with seniors.
When I initially joined the Aspen Creek team I worked as a Care & Med Coordinator (CMC) for quite some time while training Care Partners moving forward as CMCs into their new roles on the floor. While working as a CMC I learned a variety of new information. I’ve gained knowledge of dementia and other diagnoses. I have a better understanding of the older generation. Working on an intimate level with our residents creates such strong bonds, our residents become our family. These seniors have so much knowledge to share. They are full of wisdom, historical stories and most importantly lots of laughs. Our team provides more than just care. We help our residents connect to our community in and out of the building as well as the younger generations.
I felt very fulfilled as a CMC. But when an opportunity arose to be more involved in the training of incoming staff and the quality of care our residents receive; I applied and the rest is now history. I now orient staff with our core values and set them up to give the best care possible to your loved ones. I work hand in hand with the care team on the floor to promote efficiency through our practices and ensuring all needs are being met.
In my free time I enjoy roadtripping around Alaska with friends. Pre-covid I loved traveling out of Alaska to warmer sandy climates. I also enjoy taking my dogs on walks during the summer with my longtime boyfriend. We have a blue and gold yorkie named Oliver and a black german shepherd named Bane.
After attending school at Boise State University studying Construction Management and ultimately Business Management, my early career was spent working in construction, initially framing homes and then as a custom home builder, until the summer of 2009 when I had an experience that would change the course of my life.
Just like everyone working in the construction industry, the great recession starting in 2007 affected my home building business. In the summer of 2009, I was working on a small remodel project and was self-performing some of the work. On the last day, while putting up the last piece of material I was walking across a metal roof and it started to rain. I slipped, fell two stories and hit my head on a landscaping rock. A week later I awoke in the hospital, tried to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, fell over and didn’t understand why I couldn’t walk; I discovered I had suffered a traumatic brain injury. After a month of physical therapy, learning again to write, walk and accomplish normal everyday tasks, I was sent home with a walker to continue recovery on my own.
I quickly recognized that I would not be able to continue, at least for some time, building homes and I began to search for other ways I could provide for my family. Due to the experiences I had during my recovery and the recognition that without excellent health care providers I would not be alive, I was drawn to the health care field. After searching for employment and additional recovery time, I was given the opportunity to do some part-time work for a health care company operating skilled nursing facilities. I worked hard, did a good job, and the work load progressed into full-time employment and eventually I became the Director of Information Technology for Advanced Health Care.
During my time as Director of IT, I managed information technology for fourteen locations across the Western United States, created a proprietary electronic health record application, developed public facing websites, and built business specific, mission-critical applications.
Throughout my experiences, I have maintained the position that technology is a tool which should be used to improve processes making individuals more efficient so that, specifically in health care, providers can spend their valuable time with patients in ways that effect positive change; I believe that while technology can be an invaluable tool, it cannot and should not replace the personal relationships created through one-on-one interactions.
I am excited to be back in Alaska and to utilize the experiences that I have had throughout my life from construction and real estate to health care and information technology to be a part of something revolutionary. We are creating a community that will provide our seniors, our staff, and the families of both with experiences, opportunities, and relationships that will change their lives; we are redefining senior living in the State of Alaska.
I have a Bachelors Degree in Business Management, served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Tucson, Arizona, speak Spanish, and when not working, love being on some type of outdoor adventure. However, more than anything, I enjoy spending time with my wife of over 20 years and our four children.
In 1991, I graduated in construction management and was hired as a project manager for a residential development company in Northern California. A year later, I relocated my new family and ventured into site development and general engineering.
There is an art of creation and an euphoria that comes with visualizing, drawing and then physically building something. It’s an unbelievable feeling that never leaves your system once you have tasted it. Deep down I knew there was something more to my career than tasting dirt and making money.
I spent the next three years creating a new corporation, obtaining a commercial general engineering license and meeting bonding requirements. During that time, we had a beautiful baby girl.
One night I received a phone call from a friend. He was working as a home health aid in the new concept of “Assisted Living.” It was unregulated comparative to skilled nursing facilities, and it represented a new paradigm for long-term care; “A life like home, without the institutional feel.”
He told me to come up and take a look. I flew out and spent time touring facilities. That is when I discovered my new love, my new career. Together, we spent months developing plans, looking for locations and establishing our business model. We commenced construction and opened our first facility in Soda Springs, Idaho in 1995.
It was a new start, an adventure and then came the truth – we were fully occupied and still loosing money. After 18 months and sleepless nights, we realized that our seniors needed more care and we needed more staff. We knew we needed to do something different. We introduced a negotiated services agreement (an NSA).
We developed descriptions for three levels of care. Each level had different needs; which became known as the need for adequate care, the need for adequate compensation, and the need to compensate the owners for the risk and time that it takes to manage a business. Shortly after this, we began construction on our second facility in Montpelier, Idaho. This time time we knew we needed to start with more rooms and our newly created NSA.
We heard rumblings of a new HCBS waiver program through the Idaho Assisted Living Association (IDALA). We were approached by the commissioner of health and welfare and asked if we would pilot this.
We accepted the invitation and used our NSA and some very basic excel spreadsheets. These simple practices became the data that the state used to create a point system, which became their now universal assessment instrument (UAI), which is still used to establish a care rate for acuity after rent, food and utilities (RUF) have been considered.
We learned a lot these first three years. We realized we had a newly introduced care model that was not only in demand but a blessing to those that we provided services for.
Finally we were paying the bills. Then three years and three children later, my wife and I determined we needed to relocate our family to Boise, Idaho.
Shortly after relocating to Eagle Idaho, I purchased a map of the state of Idaho. I then pasted it on an office cork-board. The next day I purchased three colors of thumbtacks and posted the two facilities we currently owned in red on the map.
I then went to the states’ websites and printed a report that showed every assisted living facility in the state. I began putting thumbtacks on their locations. This visual allowed me to understand what the State of Idaho meant for our future. We then began by placing yellow thumb tacks for facilities over 16 beds and green thumb tacks over facilities with less than 15 beds.
We realized that if there was no hospital our chances of survival were weak. Based on the map, we began construction in American Falls, then Eagle, Saint Anthony, Meridian, Boise and the list went on. Our communities began training to provide care for Alzheimer and Dementia and then independent living. We began buying larger properties to create campuses. By 2010, we became one of the five largest Assisted Living providers in the State of Idaho.
During this adventure we got involved with initiatives that included The Department of Health and Welfare and the ongoing need to change rules and regulations, reimbursement rates and other legislative initiatives that are essential to staying in tune with a healthy ever changing industry. Our association became affiliated with a national organization, the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). We attended national conventions that gave us access to leading edge practices, technology and quality assurance initiatives.
We became affiliated with the National Investment Council (NIC), which has a broader base and involves not only assisted living, but skilled nursing. We learned a lot, but then something happened. I was at a convention in Florida. There are usually several keynote speakers, like a Colin Powell or a Newt Gingrich. Once in a while, these keynote speakers will be what we call an “unknown.”
I do not remember the name of the individual this day, but I do remember he started out by introducing himself as a fellow operator who was running our large CCRV in the state of New York. He began to give us a history of evolutionary change in the American Economy.
We started as farmers and hunters, then goods and services, then we began mining natural resources through the gold rush, then manufacturing and then the industrial revolution and then he introduced the… “experience” industry. I was taken back for a minute as he began sharing the evolution of Broadway, which eventually led to Hollywood and the film industry; then, a guy by the name of Walt Disney who created a “theme park” and then the hotel and hospitality industry. He went on and on and began to explain how goods and services were no longer marketed through needs but experience and desires.
Sex sells beer and cigarettes, beauty sales clothing and cosmetics, Hollywood sells emotions. Then he asked what we were? Where did we belong in the continuum of the economy? How were we classified as an industry? Were we goods with our food? Were we services with our care plans? Did we fall under the hospitality industry with our elaborate real estate as we tried to one up each other with new designs that had curb appeal?
I personally thought we were a health care industry and fell under the direct line of services. I stood corrected, and realized that we as a company were falling short of our potential. We do have an obligation to provide an experience. We went home from this convention and fired our marketing directors. We called in all of our Executive Directors (Administrators) who formed our board of leadership and redefined their role. It required us to create new job descriptions for them, for their nurses and for their staff supervisors.
Our activity directors became life coaches and when they planned events and activities more than just the resident was considered in the planning. We hired Meredith St. Clair who was working on her doctorate in Gerontology and teaching troubled teenagers in the Boise School System. We spent the summer of 2006 writing the curriculum for what we eventually called “Ohona” which in the islands means family and within the family unit – that we are bound together as a community.
This curriculum was brought to our newly energized life coaches. We began to infuse the community and school with the knowledge behind our residents. The story of the sinking of the titanic was told through the grand daughter of the lead finish carpenter who still had some of her fathers’ tools. We told the stories of the WWII conflict with fully dressed decorated veterans. Children learned of these experiences firsthand in the classroom. The educational value behind our residences’ experiences was invaluable to the community.
We developed personalized software system that utilized retail scanning technology with picture images, electronic scanning bars and medication distribution. This became to be knows as “AutoMar” and is sold today nationally as one of the leading medication management software systems known as “QuickMar”.
It will take another time for us to share all that we did, but suffice it to say that the need to go and find people to live with us no longer existed within our organization. The health of our seniors improved, the culture in our communities transformed and we began receiving letters from extended family who had been a part of this experience for our seniors.
We began to see within our facilities a culture change. The need to discipline for endless peer criticism and backbiting diminished. Caregivers and cooks began to work together. Activities became a family event and our mothers’ day, fathers’ day and other similar days of recognition became a family event, not only for the residents, but for the staff as everyone united.
As all stories have a beginning, they also have an end. As we became one of the larger long term care providers, it soon became a reality that I was spending most of my time dealing with lenders, investors, attorneys and insurance adjusters. I knew that we had grown to the point that we needed a fresh start and a new set of relationships.
We spent six months developing an offering memorandum with all of the details required to attract larger investors and operators. It took us a year following this offering memorandum to finally sale our organization to a REIT.
We entered into a non compete for three years and since our sale in September 2011 have used our investment and development skills to create single family developments, multi family apartment projects, fast food establishments, convenience stores, reclamation projects, and other commercial retail and business ventures.
It has always been our intention to return to the senior market and begin the journey we started in 1994 in South Eastern Idaho. We have learned much over the past 22 years as owners, operators, developers, and investors in the senior long term care industry. It is our belief that there is something to be done in the State of Alaska. The condition of the long term care industry is almost what we felt when we started in Idaho, and the seniors along with their families are seeking for something more than just quality care.
All of us as we reach the age when the pendulum shifts from being children to being a primary care provider for our parents has a new set of decisions to make. The tools for long-term care are closely tied to these decisions, and what it means to us as individuals and our interactions with our parents.
Our role as long-term care providers is much deeper than just documentation, adequate training, clean facilities and good meals. It is tied to the ability to counsel with the public about the decisions they need to make individually since every family, every individual and every health care condition is a private matter and vastly different.
We have found that the decision to accept long-term care services is not an event but a process even after it has been made. Creating and using the tools to keep our seniors involved with their community, with their family and with the greater world which they are a part of is what transforms this decision to accept long term care from an event and keeps it a healthy and evolutionary process.
These tools are not in addition to providing excellent care, but a change in how that excellent care is administered. Every individual has a song to sing or a dance to engage in, and discovering this within our seniors and then giving them the instruments to play at their level of talent and ability is what is needed for them until their final breath.
We are excited to be working within the State of Alaska and hope we can offer what we began to experience to those that we serve in Anchorage.