Tag Archives: registered nurse

Meet Kim Putz

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Last September, Mankato-North Mankato had the lowest unemployment rate of any community in the U.S., at 1.3 percent. The latest rate of 1.5 percent still makes it hard to find staff members for Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows. It’s among the challenges for Kim Putz, the new Executive Director.

When Kim started in January she also was thrust into leading the response to a compliance audit from the MN Department of Health (MDH), the agency that regulates assisted living communities. “While I wasn’t in my role at the time of the survey, I accepted the challenge to respond to it,” Kim said. “Our caregiving team, with help from our Support Office and colleagues from other Vista Prairie Communities, are at work reacting to every finding and recommendation.”

Kim has the right stuff for the challenge. Her accomplishments and response to hardships combine to produce a deep well of strengths. Her academic background and experience include a BS degree in nursing and a master’s in business administration, plus 12 years of related leadership experience as a nurse. “This was an opportunity for me to branch out into the whole picture,” Kim added. “I’ve been involved with older adults since I was young and started as a nurse’s aide. My final career goal was to get my master’s degree and be an executive director, to oversee the challenges in that role.”

Kim’s personal and family health history also help her relate to the challenges that Monarch Meadows’ residents face. Four years ago, as a single mom with two kids at home, she battled breast cancer. “I underwent a double mastectomy, plus multiple rounds and chemo and radiation,” she said. Shortly after she beat cancer, she witnessed the deaths of her father and sister in 2021.

In her first communication to Vista Prairie residents, family members and staff, Kim made three promises: to be a strong leader, to value continuous learning, and to practice good communication. “Our elders deserve the best,” she emphasized. “They’re at a point in their life when they need us the most. So that’s why we must give the most from ourselves.”

Kim is literally all in. She recently moved-in to the same North Mankato neighborhood where Monarch Meadows is located. 

“I look forward to having a great team,” Kim projected, “who all have the same vision, mission and goals to have a thriving community, a place where people want to come to live, where people want to come and work, to visit, to volunteer, and to maintain that through the long haul.”

Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows offers 89 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and 11 care suites. Call Sales Manager Kim Hanson (507) 933-4681 to book a tour.

Tapping experience and a service heart

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Mary Lou has seen some of this before, back in the 1970s. That experience motivates her to deliver meals to fellow residents of Vista Prairie at River Heights. Her years helping to operate the Lakeview residence in Virginia, on Minnesota’s Iron Range, provide perspective for the needs where she lives now in South St Paul.

“We had 18 or 19 residents living on three floors, no elevators and no air conditioning,” Mary Lou recalls about her days in Virginia. “We did 24-hour care — food was provided, medications, outings. It was like an assisted living facility.”

She and her husband were both registered nurses, working in Minneapolis, “We went to Lake Vermillion on a vacation and absolutely fell in love with the area. Within six months we were up North.”

And six years later, they owned the Lakeview residence. With her added experience owning and running a restaurant in nearby Biwabik, volunteering to help at River Heights amid the added food service responsibilities is a “no-brainer.”

“I live here, and I’m pretty much available,” she says. “I decided I would offer my services and they could utilize me.”

An accident in her Biwabik home compelled the assisted living move for Mary Lou. Her son and daughter-in-law, back in the Twin Cities, convinced her that being closer was better than being four hours away. “My son is wonderful support,” she says. “He and his wife and my two grandchildren keep me active and alive and happy.”

Mary Lou says she also enjoys seeing fellow residents on a different basis when she puts on her mask and delivers a meal. “We’re seeing each other more than just at activities or in the dining room. We talk about things every time I visit.”

The gardens at River Heights are coming alive again this spring. And inside, this warm and welcoming community offers assisted living in 44 apartments, as well as 16 memory care suites. Want to learn more about River Heights? Call Danielle at 651-326-6501.