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MeritCare's renovation creates mess

Construction on the MeritCare Medical Center campus in downtown Fargo has set in motion a game of medical musical chairs throughout MeritCare Health System.


Construction on the MeritCare Medical Center campus in downtown Fargo has set in motion a game of medical musical chairs throughout MeritCare Health System.

"Health care is changing dramatically, and our facilities have to change to reflect that," Don Marty, MeritCare's executive partner of facilities, said Wednesday.

MeritCare Health Systems is still in the first year of a five-year, $55 million renovation effort that will impact virtually every area of the downtown campus.

Reverberations from the downtown commotion are being felt throughout the MeritCare system.

"Eventually, all areas of the hospital and clinics will have something done to them," Marty said.


Physicians, meanwhile, are on the move this summer, many dispatched to new locations to accommodate updated clinic missions. Among the changes in Fargo-Moorhead:

E Internal medicine providers are now exclusively at three sites: MeritCare Broadway, Southpointe and Moorhead.

E Family practice providers are at five sites: MeritCare Southpointe, Moorhead, North Fargo, Island Park and West Fargo.

E Adult outpatient psychiatric services are moving from MeritCare Neuroscience to MeritCare South University (in leased space on the 6th floor in the Dakota Clinic building). Child psychiatry and psychology outpatient services will remain at MeritCare Neuroscience. One adult and one child psychiatrist will continue to practice at MeritCare Moorhead.

E Pediatricians have been consolidated at two sites: MeritCare Children's Clinic Broadway and MeritCare Children's Clinic Southwest. The Southwest clinic also is a walk-in site for children.

E Eye service providers will be located at two sites: The Professional Building and MeritCare Southpointe.

The downtown renovation effort adds 70,000 square feet of building space to the campus and is among the largest in MeritCare's history, Marty said.

The downtown campus has undergone 30 expansions since the core of MeritCare's medical center was built in 1928. The two most recent large projects were the East Wing, built in 1975, and the Roger Maris Cancer Center, completed in 1990.


"There are parts of the 1928 building that we still come across," said Kent Wild of Wild & Associates of Fargo, architects on MeritCare's projects. "All of the additions that have taken place make our work a little complex."

The current project includes the addition of a common, north-facing entrance for both the hospital and clinic, a three-story addition that will house a portion of MeritCare's Heart Center and Radiology Services, and a two-tier parking ramp for visitor and patient parking.

The new entrance will be completed in the spring of 2005 while the entire project wraps up in the fall of 2006, Marty said.

Most of the work at the downtown medical center right now is on the fourth and fifth floors.

The fourth floor, which houses the family birth center and pediatrics, is being redesigned to include an expanded Children's Hospital.

The fifth floor, once home to psychiatric services, has been gutted and will become an inpatient surgical unit.

"We have a whole lot of dominoes that need to fall into place," Marty said of the project. "This is a big campus. The whole concept is to create a healing environment -- to make it a friendlier place for patients and visitors."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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