Next Chapter: Building Our Healthy Future

Imagine. Build. Transform.

Mille Lacs Health System has embarked on a $30 million expansion project called Next Chapter: Building Our Healthy Future. This case statement seeks to help our patients, neighbors, and supporters understand why we need to build, what we are building, how we will pay for it, and how it will impact our patients. We hope this helps answer questions relating to this exciting opportunity.

Click here to make a donation to the project:


Let’s look at the people directly involved and impacted by the expansion: We have our patients, who are looking for the highest quality of care, close to home. We also have employees and medical professionals, who need the best environment in which to do their job. There is also the constantly changing world of healthcare, where up-to-date facilities and working spaces are necessary to stay competitive and give our patients what they expect, as consumers.

The original hospital was built in 1956 and many systems and spaces have not been updated since then. For instance, the kitchen (which now serves 167,000 meals annually) has never been remodeled. Patients in our hospital and emergency room deserve more privacy. These are just some of the reasons we desperately need this building project to happen.

In 1956, our community members sought to imagine quality healthcare, close to home. We are still dedicated to providing the best possible healthcare in our area but doing that means having the space to do it right. Turn the page to read more about the “needs and the necessary,” how we plan to pay for the expansion, and how the project will impact our patients during the three-year construction.

It’s time to build. The two-story expansion helps address our key needs:

Acute Care (inpatient hospital rooms) – have never been updated and there are two beds per room. Space for modern medical equipment in the rooms, and privacy, make expansion necessary.

  • Emergency Department – has one trauma bay and three small exam areas which only have curtains between them, so privacy is a major concern. Unexpected surges in patients are a normal part of emergency care, especially in our area, and space is needed for those spikes in ER critical challenges.
  • Kitchen and Cafeteria – cooking appliances, coolers, etc. have never been updated since 1956, despite the volume of meals prepared for patients, residents, and staff.

In addition, other essential needs address patient expectations and necessary improvements.

  • Privacy in the registration area to protect patient confidentiality
  • A covered port for patient drop-offs
  • Expansion of surgery waiting room, providing needed quiet and privacy
  • Expansion of Emergency Dept. to allow patient/provider conference space, and more office space for emergency personnel
  • Additional parking, a pressing need
  • Separate, enclosed entrance for patients arriving to the ER or Urgent Care
  • Additional storage space for medical equipment

To transform our facility into a place that will be the best place to give and receive care, a financial plan has been developed by the MLHS Board of Directors.

  • Rural Development loan
  • Bremer Bank loan
  • Community/Business Donations
  • Grants
  • MLHS securities
  • *Key Contributor group

*The Key Contributor group is made up of Mille Lacs Health System employees and medical providers who pledge, and then give through regular paycheck withdrawals or through other kinds of donation arrangements.

The project is expected to last three years. This last fall, site prep, paving for parking, and a new helipad were a major focus. This spring, construction will start up again.

MLHS will be open the entire time, with no disruption in services or care.

Employees have been parking offsite and walking to their jobs in order to give patients the spots in the lot to park. This will continue, even though the fluid nature of where construction focus points are will determine where patients and employees park during the expansion process. Look for signage that shows designated patient parking and alternative entrances and allow a little extra time when going to your appointments to navigate this.

MLHS CEO Bill Nelson says, “We are aware of the intermittent inconvenience to patients, and we will do everything we can to address that issue. We’re very excited about our future. In 1956, the community came together to build a hospital. Mille Lacs Health System has grown along with our patients’ needs. And we’re still committed to making it the best it can be.”

Join us on our mission to ... Imagine. Build. Transform. We are so ready for it.

Click here to make a donation to the project:


All the latest news, photos, and information regarding our expansion can be found on this website. Visit us here to check our progress.

The Gemstone Circle was founded by the Mille Lacs Area Health Foundation. The Gemstone Circle was created to lend special support to the Mille Lacs Health System by recognizing individuals and companies for their altruistic and generous support.

Membership Eligibility

Membership in the Gemstone Circle is extended to those who make an investment of $10,000 or more with up to 10 years to pay their commitment. This commitment to healthcare in the Mille Lacs area may be fulfilled immediately or through a payment schedule specified by the donor.

Learn more about the Gemstone Circle by clicking here or by calling Katie Coster, MLHS Marketing Department 320-532-2841.

Gift Pledge Form

If you would like to support the Mille Lacs Health System and the Mill Lacs Area Foundation “Next Chapter” expansion, click here for the gift pledge form. 

The “Next Chapter” involves expansion of the present Mille Lacs Health System facilities to include:

  • Replacing the current double-occupancy hospital rooms into 18 private rooms;
  • Expansion and revamping the Emergency Department;
  • Reconfiguring the kitchen and cafeteria facilities;
  • Relocation and expansion of parking and helipad areas;
  • Addition of a chapel and spiritual/meditation room.