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WILLMAR -- Stronger consumer protection against unreasonable premium increases is among the first changes the public will see as the federal health care reform law takes effect. Insurers will have to jump through new hoops if they want to raise their rates. They will also be held more accountable for spending on direct health care services for their subscribers. "We've leveled the playing field a bit," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. The changes were outlined Friday in a national teleconference with Schakowsky and Sen.
NEW LONDON -- Dr. Rick Wehseler's day starts early. At 5:30 a.m. he's at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, rounding on his patients who are in the hospital. Some days he stays for a meeting or two at the hospital, where he's also the chief of staff. Today he's lucky: no meetings. By 9 a.m. he's back in his office at Affiliated Community Medical Centers of New London-Spicer and ready to see his first clinic patient of the day. It will be 5:30 p.m. by the time the last patient is ushered out the door.
WILLMAR -- When kids are picking up their prom tuxedos this week at Weddings on First and at Coat and Tie Inc., they'll get something else as well: a message from the Kandiyohi County Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs coalition, urging them to "Get dressed up, not messed up." Coalition members hope the catchy fliers are a timely reminder that the teenaged rites of spring -- prom and graduation -- don't need to be accompanied by underage drinking. "It's about getting away from the social norm of thinking you have to have alcohol," said Laura Lindeman, coordinator of the Drug-Free Communities g
WILLMAR -- Multiple factors -- a lack of unified support from military veterans, worries about ongoing costs, misunderstandings about a proposed mental health and traumatic brain injury component -- were to blame for knocking a veterans home proposal for Willmar out of the legislative bonding bill this year. Lobbyist Dean Elton Johnson is urging local officials not to concede defeat just yet, however. "For the future it'll be difficult, but as a community, don't give up," said Johnson. Members of the joint powers board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commiss
WILLMAR -- From her one-person office in Willmar, Marge Hanson covers a wide territory directing and coordinating Girl Scout programs in the region.
The early start of spring this year might be welcome, but along with it comes a less welcome annual visitor: ticks. Several sightings have already been reported of deer ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease, and the more common dog tick, or wood tick. "It seems like they're now emerging and looking for a host," said Gary Bullemer, assistant manager at Sibley State Park. "It's not winter anymore," agreed Dr.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital hasn't decided yet whether to join the care coordination delivery system that's being formed for Minnesota's newly retooled General Assistance Medical Care program. Hospital officials are looking at the financial projections, however, and have grave reservations. "Based on what we know, the financial risk for us would be tremendous," Mike Schramm, chief executive of Rice Hospital, said this week. He said it's "probably unlikely" Rice would participate. GAMC, Minnesota's publicly funded health program for single adults, was slated to end last month. Under
Organizers are looking forward to a big turnout Friday for the 11th annual Life Connections senior event at the Willmar Civic Center. The event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is hosted by the West Central Tribune. About 1,200 are expected to attend, said Kari Gislason, marketing director at the West Central Tribune. "People look forward to it. It has become a very social event," she said.
WILLMAR -- Orthopedic surgery, oncology, emergency medicine, hospital medicine and primary care remain among Rice Memorial Hospital's top priorities for strengthening these specialty services and recruiting ph-ysicians to staff them. But cardiology and ne-phrology also have been fast-tracked onto the short-term priority list, where they'll be studied more closely over the next few months for how they can be enhanced. All these specialties are part of the city-owned hospital's growth plan, which identifies opportunities for Rice to expand its services or add new ones. The growth plan was pre
It's seven months since Regina Schmitz first went on the road with the Growmobile, bringing preschool learning to day-care children in Kandiyohi County. "Now that we're nearing the end of the year, I can see progress," said Schmitz, coordinator of the United Way of West Central Minnesota's Success by 6 program. "They're able to sit still for a story. That's been very evident to me. They know their alphabet.