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MeritCare's Detroit Lakes clinic to expand

FARGO, N.D. -- The MeritCare Clinic in Detroit Lakes will undergo a major expansion and renovation project to add same-day surgery and additional diagnostic services.

The $15-million project, announced Thursday, will add 33,000 square feet and remodel 28,800 square feet. Completion is scheduled for 2011.

The expansion project means patients in the Detroit Lakes area will be able to get more of their medical services close to home, said Dr. Jon Larson, the clinic's managing physician.

Planning for the project began three years ago -- long before this week's MeritCare merger with Sanford Health was contemplated -- in order to provide medical services to a population that was both growing and graying.

"A lot of the growth lies in the retirement population," Larson said, recalling a demographic analysis of the clinic's service area.

The "hub" clinic is more than a matter of convenience.

"The population is aging, so that drive to Fargo became more and more difficult," he said.

MeritCare is studying the possibility of augmenting other satellite clinics in its service area, comprised of eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, spokesman Darren Huber said.

"It's the first of a series of pod locations is what we're calling it," he said, noting that 80 percent of MeritCare's patient base is outside Fargo-Moorhead.

"We have to look at how we best serve our people," Huber said.

The added space to the Detroit Lakes clinic includes a surgery center with two operating suites, and expanded imaging, laboratory and physical therapy services.

Enhancements also include room for mobile medical units and space for future expansion growth of up to 36 providers, delivering both primary and specialty care.

Detroit Lakes Clinic joined MeritCare in 1985. The clinic has 30,000 square feet, with 87 employees, 11 doctors and four physician assistants or nurse practitioners, and four clinical psychologists.

St. Mary's Innovis Health in Detroit Lakes, attached to St. Mary's Regional Health Center, has 87 beds, 22 doctors and three physician assistants, among other providers.

Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The Forum and the Bemidji Pioneer are both owned by Forum Communications Co.