Meet Kelsey Hastings- the founder and CEO of Advantage Living Centers, a healing and rehabilitation chain across the United States.
Dedicating your life for someone else’s well-being isn’t easy- it requires courage of the greatest kind. From being a registered nurse, a licensed nursing home administrator and ordained minister, Kelsey has served humanity almost all her life with her gifted skills. After receiving her nursing degree and working in urban hospitals, she found her calling in long term care- following which she became a consultant to help nursing facilities improve care and outcomes. In early 2000, she spent two years in ministry school, became ordained and spent three years on the mission field in Russia and Ukraine. The culmination of these years of service resulted in an opportunity to purchase facilities and work with a talented team of people to develop an organisation focused on excellent care and customer service. “I own and operate 12 skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities today. Through hard work and determination, and a bit of luck, my venture went from a small room in my home to employing staff of about 1600 caring for 1300 senior citizens,” she says.
As a child, her growing up years were overall good until she lost her father at the tender age of 10. From there, her life became difficult due to abuse from a stepfather. Even though she was a diligent student, she had to work at odd jobs throughout her high school years to make ends meet. Such struggles in life got her married young at the age of 18, followed by having a child. “My husband and I were very poor and needed public assistance for food and care for our baby. However, I was blessed to have generous in-laws, who supported me and it is only because of them that I was able to return to school and get my degree in nursing- which turned out to be the beginning of a career that went in directions I could never have imagined!” she says.
After graduating from nursing school, she and her husband got themselves into public assistance, where she worked in a hospital for 4 years and started doing per diem work at a nursing home. From the very first day of working in the nursing home, Hastings knew this was her calling- she worked through the ranks of supervisor, director of nursing and then to regulatory consulting. She even started her own consulting company in 1992, which got blessed with an opportunity 10 years later (after a lot of challenges) when an investor showed interest and she bought two nursing homes along with her partner. From there, they have expanded to where they stand currently.
Today, the Advantage Living Centres take care of people who are temporarily or chronically ill- “We take high acuity patients who may require IV therapy, tracheostomy care, artificial feeding methods and more. We also care for individuals in the long term including people with Dementia, stroke or multiple comorbidities. Our focus is to help people live the best life they can, even if they must live at one of our facilities and to provide opportunities for people to live a purposeful life,” tells Hastings. She is a recipient of the American College of Health Care Administrator’s Distinguished Service Award and the American Heart Association Game Changer Award.
The present challenge that she faces is certainly the focus on the pandemic and the impact on the skilled nursing home image, as a lot of people lost their lives due to COVID-19. For this, she is working with her team on reimaging themselves to show people that their organisation is a safe place to recover and to live. From state of the art technology such as diathermy, e-stimulation and ultrasound therapy interventions, to thermal scanners, electrostatic disinfection cleaners and data management IT resources, Advantage Living Centers offer advanced care that can be found in a hospital’s medical surgical unit.
As she looks back, she realises that her life has gone in directions she never had imagined- “I thought life would bring me being a mother, wife and nurse. Running a 100 million dollar company was never in my dreams and aspirations, especially in the days of being impoverished and living on public assistance. The beautiful thing is, having gone through all of the experiences that challenged me along the way, I can now appreciate the accomplishments and can see the potential in others around me. Basically, I believe people can do anything they set their mind to and take the opportunities that come their way as they continue to challenge themselves to courageously take the next steps moving forward, letting their old fears fall away,” she says.