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Nurse Jodi Triplett, left, and Rice Memorial Hospital trauma coordinator Mary Nelson perform a check Wednesday of a rapid flow fluid warmer. The instrument is often used in treating trauma patients at the hospital emergency room. The ER is seeing an increase in patients through the first few months of the year. In February and March, the number of people who visited the ER was almost identical to the numbers seen in June, July and August, which tend to be the busiest months for ER staff. Tribune photo by...

Emergency room visits soaring at Rice Memorial Hospital

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WILLMAR -- In the past three months, emergency visits at Rice Memorial Hospital have soared, prompting the hospital to add a second emergency-room doctor on Sundays to handle the increasing number of patients.

Staff first noticed the trend three months ago.

Summer, not winter, is usually the busiest time of year in Rice's emergency room. Visits to the ER peak in June, July and August at about 1,000 a month.

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