In 2003, MeritCare embarked on a very purposeful design goal - to have all of the areas where they cared for children (the children's hospital in downtown Fargo, and its clinics in Fargo and throughout the region) be inviting, warm and colorful, knowing that this would help calm children's fears and aid in the healing process.
To help achieve this goal, MeritCare enlisted the help of Detroit Lakes artist Hans Gilsdorf, who transformed its children's hospital into a warm, colorful and whimsical Renaissance-style fantasy-themed village. The village is called Laffalot (laugh a lot) and it's the home of Alfunz (all fun, from A to Z). Alfunz and his friends are animated animal characters who live in the village and interact with children. While Gilsdorf had already done some work to create the same look and feel in the basement of MeritCare Children's Southwest via the creation of a large mural, his next task was to create the look throughout the clinic.
On Saturday, the public is invited to tour the clinic and take part in special activities from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.:
- Penny & Pals performs at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Children's coloring contest; top artists will have their work posted on meritcare.com (keyword: children)
- Doll clinic: Children should bring their favorite doll or plush animal
- Football toss, basketball shoot and other sports
- Tours of a Fargo Fire truck and F-M Ambulance vehicle
- Car seat safety checks; registration is required. Call (701) 234-5570
- Arts and crafts
Special features of the clinic include:
- Distraction bubble machines
- Breast-feeding room for moms
- Child-friendly registration desks
- New digital X-ray equipment that reduces radiation exposure
- Both the exterior and interior of the clinic have been remodeled.
- The clinic is the first and only stand-alone clinic in North Dakota designed exclusively to serve the needs of children. It is also home to the region's only children's walk-in clinic.
- MeritCare Children's Southwest is one of two specialized children's clinic locations; the other clinic is at 737 Broadway, Fargo. The clinics have 17 pediatricians and one nurse practitioner; 40 nurses and 21 additional staff who specialize in caring just for children.
- In the past 18 months, over 19,000 children have been seen by a MeritCare Children's pediatrician - some from as far away as Florida and New York.
- Last year, MeritCare's Children's nurses gave over 25,000 immunizations and 6,657 flu shots.
- March 2006 was a record month for the children's walk-in clinic; 3,532 children were treated.
- MeritCare's Children's phone lines nurses received over 22,000 calls in the past six months. Nurses help parents decide whether a doctor's visit is necessary and listen to parent's concerns.