People see Crystal Crayton, wearing a big smile and green scrubs in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at IU Health University Hospital but what they don’t know is she had a former life that included working in a prison.
She was 18. It was her first job after high school and Crystal Crayton remembers the lesson well. She started out as a stocking clerk at a popular retail store and no matter how hard she worked, her manager pushed her to work harder.
“His criticism elevated me. I didn’t know it at the time but now I know it got me to where I am today,” said Crayton, a certified technician and unit secretary on the bone marrow transplant unit of IU Health University Hospital.
Within no time at all she was promoted to data entry, accounting and payroll.
A graduate of Lawrence Central High School, Crayton has one sister Dorian Shirley who works at IU Health Saxony.
“I was popular and confident in high school. I was involved in lots of clubs, played basketball and performed with the drama club,” said Crayton. Through one business club she landed a job working at Fort Benjamin Harrison as a file clerk in the library.
For the bulk of her career before IU Health, she worked as an isolation facilitator for an IPS alternative school and then spent 15 years with the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center as a manager and trainer.
“I was always full staffed because I treated my employees the way I wanted to be treated. We had a really good rapport and I’ve learned how important that is over the years when it comes to job satisfaction,” said Crayton. She ended her career in criminal justice working with the GEO Group, a correctional program focused on providing evidence-based rehabilitation to people during incarceration and post-release. Crayton taught a class “Thinking for a Change” that covered various topics including substance abuse to life skills.
“Working in the prison system taught me about nurturing and teaching. Sometimes people just need you to talk to them, to listen and to care,” said Crayton. She came to IU Health four years ago, starting out in dietary at Methodist Hospital.
“Working in the bone marrow transplant unit at University is like home. I love helping the patients. I’m still a nurturer and I’m still an educator – teaching them the importance of drinking enough, eating enough and getting out of bed even to do a lap – it’s all part of the healing process,” said Crayton.
More about Crayton:
- Her aunt was a patient on the Bone Marrow Unit several years ago. When people ask her how she does it, she tells them she feels like her aunt’s spirit is guiding her.
- She has two adult sons and a 6-year-old granddaughter.
- She recently moved back home to care for her aging parents.
- What might surprise people to learn? “I started a young women’s mission group and hosted a prayer breakfast with 65 women in attendance. One of the women had just been released from prison and we helped her find a place to live, a job and get a new start.”
- Advice to people who fall on hard times: “Learn to put God first and always treat people with respect. When you treat people with respect, you get respect.”
— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email email@example.com.