Final phase of long-term transformation of Bethesda Grand in Willmar expected to be completed this year

The transformation of Bethesda Grand in Willmar began in 2016. The final phase began during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the remodel of the west wing and memory care unit into "neighborhoods." This year, the east wing will be remodeled and an addition constructed.

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Bethesda administrator Sam Quam talks Wednesday, March 9, 2023, about design changes that are currently underway at Bethesda Grand in Willmar. Bethesda expects to complete the remodeling of the east wing this summer, and construction of a new addition should be complete by October. The Bethesda Grand west wing and memory care wing have already been remodeled.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The final phase of the transformation of Bethesda Grand is planned for completed this year with the remodeling of the east wing and a construction of a new addition.

The west wing and memory care wing were remodeled into “neighborhoods” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chief Development Officer Caroline Chan.

The remodeling of the east wing into neighborhoods will begin near the end of March and construction of the new addition will begin as soon as the frost is out of the ground sometime in April, according to Facility Director Ross Brandt.

The remodeling is expected to wrap up in July and construction of the new addition should be complete by October.

Noting that COVID-19 interrupted some plans for the remodels and additions, Chan said, “I’m proud that we didn’t lose sight of the vision and just decide, ‘OK, well, we’re done … It’s good enough,’ because it’s not. It is, but it needs to be better. Why settle for good when you can have great? It’s important that our board of directors and our leadership didn’t give up on this dream, because it’s going to be great.”


The first phase of the transformation was completed in 2016 with the addition for skilled-nursing beds. Residents moved from Bethesda Heritage Center, which was located near Calvary Lutheran Church on Olena Avenue, to what is now known as Bethesda Grand, located on Willmar Avenue. The Bethesda Heritage Center property was later sold to Calvary Lutheran.

The second phase was the remodeling of the Bethesda Grand main entrance and lobby area to create a Town Center, which took place in 2018-2019. Located in the Town Center are Brothers Cafe+Bistro, a gift shop, Carrie’s Chapel, an intergenerational activity center, a private meeting room and a fireside area for visiting.

The new addition will add private rooms to the campus and connect the campus to create a secure, private courtyard for residents, according to Chan.

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Finished renovations of a commons area in Bethesda's west wing show a "neighborhood" living area that creates a more home-like setting with a table for playing games or other activities, comfortable chairs and a large TV.
Contributed / Bethesda

“We’ll still maintain double-room occupancies because we have individuals that are married or siblings or are just great friends and they want to live together,” Chan said. “Each neighborhood will maintain the ability to have people reside as a dual occupancy, but a majority of our footprint will be made up into single-occupancy rooms, which will be a really huge enhancement for our area and for our residents.”

Currently, the east wing has a combined kitchen, dining and living area that serves approximately 40 residents. The “neighborhoods” will serve approximately 20 residents or fewer, remodeling the area into two kitchenettes, dining areas and living rooms.

“It’s really more of an intimate-style living than the old industrial mass kitchen area. ... It will really create more intimate spaces,” Chan said.

The new rooms will include private showers and med servers, which are locked, two-way cupboards that allow for the passing of medications and other supplies, such as toiletries, without interrupting the resident.

“It’s been a long time coming and we’re just excited to get moving on the process and add new spa areas,” Chan said, noting the space will transition from staff-focused spaces to resident-focused spaces.


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Bethesda's current kitchen space on the east wing is more enclosed and not as resident-friendly as the renovated space will be, with two full-service kitchenettes that will each serve up to 20 residents and more home-like dining and living area.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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A newly renovated kitchenette is now ready for residents living on the west wing at Bethesda.
Contributed / Bethesda

Now when walking down the hallway to the east wing, one sees the nursing station. After the remodeling, it will be a neighborhood living room that will be seen.

Staff areas will still exist, but they will be “private, more defined areas designed just for the staff instead of having them on display for everyone walking by to see,” Chan added. “It’s just a really nice opportunity for them to have their identified spaces and the rest of the spaces be identified for residents.”

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Chan emphasized that the remodeling will allow Bethesda Grand to serve the same number of people with more space. “We’re really excited,” she said.

Designing and constructing of the new spaces are Engan Associates Architects and Marcus Construction, according to Brandt.

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A mural in Bethesda will be removed as renovation work continues for the senior living facility.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

“It’s going to be a great addition for our neighbors in this community, because, as we know, the aging population is getting broader,” Chan said. “It’s important that we have spaces that people want to be. If we have to go somewhere to get care, let’s make it a place we all want to live … you design the places you want to live someday.”

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: or phone at 320-214-4339.
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