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This architect's rendition shows the front of the expanded Meritcare clinic in Detroit Lakes.

Detroit Lakes Meritcare clinic to undergo $15 million expansion

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Meritcare Clinic in Detroit Lakes on Thursday announced plans for a $15 million expansion and renovation project.

The project, which includes two new ambulatory surgical suites, will allow the clinic to add a number of surgical subspecialties, and to beef up its family and internal medicine departments, said Dr. Jon Larson, managing physician partner.

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The 33,000-square-foot addition is expected to be finished in the summer of 2011. The project also includes renovation and remodeling of 28,000 square feet of the existing (30,000-square-foot) clinic.

Larson said the idea is to make the Detroit Lakes clinic a regional medical destination.

"It's based on a hub concept," he said. Patients are expected to be drawn from an area that includes "Hawley to New York Mills to Pelican Rapids to Mahnomen," Larson said. There are Meritcare clinics in all those communities.

The Detroit Lakes clinic will add a number of surgical specialists in areas that include urology, ear, nose and throat, orthopedics and more.

"We'll have a larger physical therapy capability and some occupational therapy capability," Larson said. The clinic will also get a CT scan and other new equipment, he said.

The new specialists will travel on a regular schedule to see patients in communities across the region, but any ambulatory surgical work will be done in Detroit Lakes.

Inpatient surgery will continue to be done at St. Mary's Innovis hospital.

The addition will be built to the east, towards the skating rink, which will be moved to Peoples Park.

The project will include additional parking space.

The idea came from long-range planning sessions that started about three years ago, Larson said.

"We looked at the demographics of the area to see what the needs were."

The population of Becker County is projected to grow, including more retired people.

"It's more convenient and safer for them to have it done locally than to have to drive all the way to Fargo," he said.

The new addition will include:

• A surgery center with two operating suites.

• Expanded imaging services and space.

• Expanded lab services and space.

• Expanded and relocated physical therapy space.

• Outdoor space for mobile medical units with over-head canopies on the south and north entrances.

• Expanded clinic space for future growth of up to 36 providers, both primary and specialty care.

"The expansion of these services in the Detroit Lakes area is key to enhancing the patient experience at MeritCare and in our community," Larson said.

"It's all about offering convenient patient-focused care by providing a service that is closer to home. And to have it all under one roof is a really nice addition to our over-all package of services."

The remodel will improve patient flow and efficiency aligning the facility with principles to better serve patients.

Detroit Lakes Clinic joined MeritCare in 1985. The current location on Washington Avenue was built in 1987.

The clinic has steadily grown to currently include 87 employees, 11 doctors and four physician assistants and nurse practitioners, with five doctors providing outreach medical services.

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