Pine Haven New Hires Will Improve Dining, Overall Wellness

Pine Haven Christian Communities has recently added two new staff positions: Pine Haven Chef, Crystal Thomas, and Pine Haven Resident Wellness Manager, Martina Wessels.

“We’re always looking at ways to better serve our residents. We saw opportunities within our activities department, to increase focus on overall well-being, and in our dining service, to increase the number of options available to our residents and improve efficiency so that we could provide additional from-scratch options at every meal,” said Lori Albsmeier, Director of Human Resources at Pine Haven Christian Communities. “The talent and experience of Crystal and Martina are sure to enhance every one of our resident’s lives.”

The organization purchased and installed new, state-of-the-art technology in dietary food preparation including a “combi-oven” and a “blast chiller” over the summer. This equipment, which is new to the long term care industry, allows Pine Haven staff to provide fresher and healthier food, while increasing the variety of options. In order to make the most of the new equipment and further enhance dining service, Pine Haven hired Crystal Thomas as their new chef.

Crystal has a degree in culinary arts, baking, and pastry arts & science from Johnson and Wales University, as well as a certificate in education and supervised culinary interns. She has over 18 years experience as a chef in a variety of settings, including restaurants, resorts, and country clubs. Locally, she has worked at The Osthoff Resort, Lake Street Café, and The Gear Box. Crystal spent 10 years in the United Kingdom working at a resort with a castle and hotel, where they transitioned from traditional cooking equipment to the same food preparation method Pine Haven will now be using.

Looking to enhance the daily lives of residents, Pine Haven also hired a new Resident Wellness manager, Martina Wessels, in early September. Martina Wessels earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. Since graduating, Martina worked for Alliance Rehab at a retirement community similar to Pine Haven providing fitness services to residents in independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation and dementia care environments. Martina has created exercise programs, coordinated activities within a resident fitness center, planned and coordinated games and fitness activities, created displays on health topics and presented seminars on fitness and wellness topics.

Martina has already structured a new “Gym to Go” program, where she works with individual residents to assess their condition, set goals, and conduct a personalized workout routine with them on a regular basis. This is the first of the new initiatives Martina will be developing to help improve the overall wellness of all Pine Haven residents.

Residents are pleased with the changes. Compliments from residents about the food began as soon as the new equipment was being used, and continue to come in as residents enjoy the new and tasty creations. And many people have already signed up for the newly launched “Gym to Go” program.

For more information about Pine Haven visit www.pinehaven.org or call 920-467-2401.