‘I try to stress the positive’

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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Director of nursing at St. John’s The Woodlands tries to be upbeat and fun


The director of nursing at St. John’s Lutheran Community’s The Woodlands campus is approaching her one-year anniversary at the nursing home after what has been a busy first year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chastity Peterson started in the position last November and said she has enjoyed her time thus far.

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Peterson has a background in geriatrics and memory care and also worked for a time in insurance for HealthPartners.

Peterson previously lived in the Twin Cities, but moved to Albert Lea after she got the position. She is engaged to Josh Fossum, manager of Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home, and the two are planning to be married Aug. 1.

She said though it initially was an adjustment moving to Albert Lea from the Cities, she has grown to love the community and the slower pace here.

In her role as director of nursing, she oversees the nurse managers at the facility, who in turn oversee other nursing staff.

She also guides the admissions coordinator and works with medical records.

Peterson noted how important each member of the team is for residents at St. John’s. She credited the frontline staff since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and their dedication to the residents.

“I praise my frontline workers,” she said. “They’ve stayed positive through it all and supported each other.”

She said staff have planned special things to try to help residents during this difficult time with therapy and activities.

They enjoy taking residents out on the porch when possible, have planned theme days, a car cruise and parades. The chaplain has also conducted hallway services, in which residents can listen to the service from their doorways, and they try to set up FaceTime visits for residents with families and tele-visit doctor visits.

Gina Keith asks Chastity Peterson for clarification on a bladder scan reading at St. John’s Lutheran Community. – Provided

“During this whole thing, I try to stress the positive,” she said.

Residents are still tested two times a day for temperature and other COVID-19 screening questions. If a resident has even one of the COVID-19 symptoms, they call the Mayo mobile testing unit, which comes to the facility to test the patient for the virus.

“It’s a day-by-day thing, and we’re following the guidance of the Department of Health,” she said.

Nursing homes recently started allowing outdoor visits with families and residents, and the nursing home also recently opened its beauty shop.

“Overall, it really has helped the residents,” Peterson said.

Peterson can often be seen wearing Wonder Woman clothing, and outside of work, she said she likes doing things with her Jeep and loves finding ugly pieces of furniture on the side of the road and fixing them up.

Between Peterson and her fiance, they have seven children and two grandchildren. They also enjoy being outdoors, canoeing and fishing.

She said she also serves as president of the Halverson Elementary School parent-teacher organization.

“Chastity is a very motivated and hardworking person who always puts the safety and happiness of St. John’s residents first,” said Kathy Woodside, director of public relations, fund development and volunteers at St. John’s. “She is always greeting everyone with a warm smile and is upbeat and fun to work with.”

St. John’s Lutheran Community on Fountain Lake Director of Nurses Chastity Peterson takes a resident’s blood pressure. – Provided