Tri-County Health Care staff announced in March 2019 plans to either expand or build a new hospital.

Later in 2019, after public meetings and researching potential locations, they set their sights on a location west of Wadena on a property in Otter Tail County. If all testing checks out, they are looking at building a new hospital at that location, as soon as spring of 2020.

The current hospital faces obstacles such as an inefficient layout, operating rooms that are costly to update, hidden location, poor energy efficiency, lack of parking and limited room for expansion in its current location. These make it difficult to offer the most advanced procedures and services while upholding safe, high-quality care.

Health care itself is rapidly changing. For instance, when the current building was built 45 years ago in Wadena, patients who stayed in the hospital (inpatients) made up 90 percent of the care provided, and it was designed with that need in mind. Now, however, inpatients only make up 13 percent of its business, and outpatients represent its greatest growth opportunity.

“It’s just an extremely exciting time,” Beiswenger said upon the first announcement of the construction plans. “We want to make sure we continue to thrive and can do everything that we’re doing today and more into the future. Our fear is if we stay in this facility as it is today, we might have the opposite effect.”

TCHC staff were still in the preliminary planning stages for the hospital layout and square footage in early August.