Bethesda has a rich history of caring for others and serving the community of Willmar and surrounding area.
Bethesda was founded in 1897 as an orphanage in Lamberton, Minnesota. In 1905, the orphanage moved to a site six miles north of Willmar, where children were joined by older citizens at what was called the “Country Home.” By 1910, Bethesda began providing services to elderly people, as well as children. In 1939, Bethesda began serving exclusively elderly people.
In 1953, a new nursing home, Bethesda Heritage Center, opened its doors in the city of Willmar. The “Country Home” was closed in 1979, after Bethesda built and opened Pleasant View nursing home in Willmar.
In 1982, the Bethesda Foundation was organized with the purpose of supporting the efforts of Bethesda and to foster financial development. Currently, the Bethesda Foundation strives to build community by encouraging generosity, promoting civic engagement and enhancing the quality of life for those we serve through philanthropy.
Responding to the aging needs of the community, Bethesda expanded again in 1987, adding Terrace Homes, three independent-living duplex units. This was followed by the opening of Sunrise Village, an independent- and assisted-living complex in 1992.
Aging in place became more prevalent, as people saw the benefits of staying in their home as they aged. In 1993, Bethesda’s Home Health program began providing medical and personal support to assist people in the comfort of their homes.
Following its caring tradition, Bethesda expanded its services in 1996, to include adult day services. DayBreak, an adult day-care program, is designed to provide extra support for people who need assistance to maintain their independence in the community, while also giving a respite to their caregivers.
To meet the growing need for senior housing, Bethesda opened Centennial Square in 1997, providing income-based, independent-living apartments in the community.
Bethesda saw the need for its services beyond Willmar, and expanded to Olivia, Minnesota, in 2002, opening Park View Village, a 20-unit, assisted-living facility. Park View Village added a memory-loss unit in 2005.
Back in Willmar, Bethesda’s Wellness Center opened in 2010. The Wellness Center is home to Club Bethesda, a fitness facility for those over age 50. It features state-of-the-art equipment designed for the older adult. The Pleasant View Short-Term Care Therapy Department is also located in the Wellness Center. In 2011, a warm-water therapy pool was added to the Wellness Center. It is available to members of Club Bethesda and is also used for physical therapy.
Building plans, scheduled for completion by the spring of 2016, include relocating 125 skilled nursing care beds from Heritage Center onto the Pleasant View Campus into distinct neighborhoods that will enhance quality of life and sense of purpose by creating familiar spaces for resident use. Plans also include the construction of a new 36-bed short-stay therapy center building that will reflect an environment of wellness and healing for post-acute recovery. This expansion will introduce a new kind of enhanced continuing care retirement community that encourages active lifestyles and community relationships – all on one campus!
Today, Bethesda is at an important crossroads – a defining moment that will shape and allow us to take a leadership role of more responsive and flexible programs for older adults for decades to come. Please check back for progress as we develop and grow to better serve our family, friends and neighbors.