Inside Athena: Abbott Terrace’s Receptionist With The Listening Ear
WATERBURY, C.T. — Decades in healthcare came to a brief halt for Abbott Terrace Health Center Receptionist Crystal Norman.
Before joining the Waterbury, Connecticut center, she had worked with Hartford HealthCare for a year and another nursing home before that for more than 18 years until it closed. There was a period where she debated if she wanted to continue in the industry, but knew her work wasn’t done.
“I like to help people a lot,” she said. “I guess that’s my calling because I tried to get out of it and it just drew me right back so I’m not going to fight it. I love the residents and families.”
She started at Abbott Terrace in November of 2021. It was a referral from a friend who informed her of the open position.
“I never worked for Athena and I know a lot of people who did work here and still do work here and they always say good things about it so I’m like, ‘I want to join that team,'” she said. “I’m learning a lot here and I thought I knew everything from being in this field for so long but I’m still learning new stuff.”
Norman said the team has been “welcoming” and has made her feel at home. The staff, many of whom call Abbott Terrace home, have also offered a warm welcome.
It takes the right kind of person to be the first encounter when entering the building. Norman said being able to multitask is an important part. While the role can be busy, she said it’s important to focus and listen when people need to talk.
“I just take the time to listen to them and address what I can do to help you out, to make your day get better and to turn your day around so you don’t keep this attitude or this feeling all day,” she said. “A lot of people just want to be heard and let them know somebody is caring for them and listening to them.”
The Waterbury native said she’ll offer her perspective and feedback if the person wants it.
“The residents are the most important. That’s what we’re here for. I let them know this is your home. I’m here for only eight hours a day so I try to be respectful to their needs and their wants,” she said. “You definitely have to be a people person. I get a lot of the residents who come up and sometimes they just need to vent, just want somebody to listen to them and hear them out and that’s what I try to do…give them encouraging words. You let them know it’s going to be okay.”
She said she successfully manages her duties and the emotions of others by tackling one task at a time.
Norman lives in Waterbury with her husband, who is a social worker. The couple met at college in Virginia, have been married for 30 years, and share two sons and a granddaughter.