CHISHOLM — Heritage Manor Healthcare Center has recently begun the first phase of a $12.7 million remodeling project.

The project will increase the size of the facility from 57,175 square feet to 72,731 square feet, according to a press release.

Carol Raw, CEO of St. Francis Health Services of Morris, Inc., the parent company of Heritage Manor, expressed excitement about the project that involves converting the facility’s 70 bed care center, made up of shared bathroom double rooms, into an overall 46 private and 24 split double facility.

“The COVID pandemic provided us an opportunity to rethink our original concept of shared bathrooms and split doubles,” Raw is quoted in a press release. “Infection control and assuring a safe environment for the people we serve is our priority.”

The project has been in the works conceptually for more than three years, and was recently submitted to local and federal authorities for design content and funding approval.

All permitting was granted earlier this month, allowing groundbreaking to commence.

The Chisholm City Council upon recommendation by the city Planning and Zoning Commission, recently approved a variance request from Heritage Manor, allowing a setback of 18 feet instead of 30 to accommodate the remodeling project. City Building Inspector Mandy Galli said the project involves property owned by Heritage Manor, and does not infringe on any right-of-ways.

The first phase is under way and involves renovating 21 double rooms on the existing east wing of the facility into more private personal spaces. Renovations to the main entrance planned for the first phase will enhance access for emergency personnel, staff and visitors. Adjacent to the new main entrance on the east, there will be a new kitchen, serving line and resident dining experience.

The second phase is anticipated to begin sometime this spring on the west wing of the building. The west wing was built in the 1950s and is the oldest section of the building. Plans call for the west wing to be demolished and replaced with a new addition, consisting of 21 new private rooms with private bathrooms, a new kitchen that will be relocated to the main level adjacent to an updated dining room. Plans for the new kitchen include proper pantry storage, a walk-in cooler and freezer and new appliances and equipment throughout.

The improvements planned for the second phase are designed to eliminate obstacles related to food delivery that currently exist, while improving the facilities nutritional and dietary services, according to the release.

“We want the ability to serve our residents what they want in a restaurant like setting with multiple choices and better quality,” Heritage Manor Administrator Chet Fishel, is quoted in the release.

Other improvements that are part of the second phase include installing new state-of-the-art HVAC systems, a new elevator for access to the lower level, a large therapy suite, a new bathing suite, a dedicated space for residential activities and a large central space for social activity.

The new therapy suite is designed to include easy access parking, and its own direct access for outpatient therapy clients.

Construction on Phase two is anticipated to take about 18 months.

Phase three involves remodeling 14 existing double rooms into nine private rooms, installing all new laundry equipment, renovating offices, and remodeling an existing bathing suite.

Other updates are also planned throughout the phases, including replacement of existing flooring, an entirely new roof, all new resident beds and furnishings, a new conference room near the main entrance, a new emergency generator, updated HVAC, a new employee break room and education room, as well as new office spaces.

Heritage Manor, like many nursing homes across the state and nation, is currently closed to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once the building reopens to visitors, there will be a change in access to the building to allow for construction of Phase one.

“We anticipate this to be about a three month inconvenience,” it states in the release. “We appreciate your patience throughout the duration of the construction and look forward to a finished project.”

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