Krystal Klabbatz started work at Payson Care Center before finishing high school. Now, a brief nine years later, the Arizona Health Care Association has named her the state's professional of the year.
"I started here as a nurse's aide through the high school's diversified occupations program," Klabbatz said.
She had two job opportunities through the Payson High School's vocational training program, one was at a bank and the other was with Payson Care Center.
"I wanted to be a nurse, so I chose Payson Care Center."
As a nurse's aide at the facility, she was able to take advantage of its training program to move into the position of nursing assistant, once she was 18 and old enough to earn certification.
Klabbatz has also worked in the care center's medical records department and as a word clerk and six years ago stepped into the post of admissions director and marketing director.
Only this year was she able to relinquish her marketing hat. The Life Care Centers of America, which operates Payson Care Center, decided to give the marketing duties to an outside contractor.
"When I heard I'd won, I felt shy. I don't know how to feel with the recognition," she said.
She knows what she likes about her work, though.
"I like making a difference and seeing them smile," she said. Her admissions work keeps her in close contact with both the residents and their families.
Klabbatz is also available to members of the community who have questions about the skilled care offered by Payson Care Center and other help for the elderly and disabled.
She said she had to learn the job while she was doing it, but she has had a lot of corporate support.
"They provide lots of resources for us to provide a high standard of care," she said.
The purpose of the Arizona Health Care Association awards is to recognize those within the long-term care and assisted living profession who have devoted both time and talent to caring for elderly and disabled residents in Arizona.