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Editorial: Celebrate 75 years of Rice Hospital

Celebrating 75 years of operations is the theme of Rice Memorial Hospital this week.

The local hospital and the city of Willmar should celebrate the continued successful operation of a medical hospital within the community and region.

The hospital opened on Aug. 2, 1937, in Willmar at the peak of the Great Depression, built with $166,000 in funding from the Cushman Rice legacy and federal Public Works Administration funding.

The first day featured 37 beds and two operating rooms equipped with $5,000 worth of equipment.

Since that first day when a young girl became the first patient for a tonsil operation, the hospital has continued to evolve and grow.

In recent years, the hospital completed a $52 million expansion and rebuilding project to modernize the hospital's facilities. In late 2009, the Willmar Regional Cancer Center opened within the hospital, combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy service for cancer care in an integrated program.

The hospital and community leaders have long sought to continue improving and changing to meet new medical and patient needs. They continue to work together utilizing good management; prudent decision-making, good communicaitons and meeting community needs to keep the hospital strong.

This hospital combined with local physician clinics provides a strong medical community to serve Willmar and the surrounding region.

Congratulations to the hospital organization and its entire staff -- past and present -- for 75 years of success as Rice Memorial Hospital.

Join the celebration from 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the hospital.

Willmar and west central Minnesota are fortunate to have this hospital as part of our communities.