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WILLMAR — As the influenza outbreak continues, masks and hand sanitizer are becoming a familiar sight at the entrance to local health facilities. Providers are busy not only caring for sick patients but taking steps as well to attempt to curb the spread of the flu virus in what’s proving to be a severe influenza season. Influenza activity remains high, health officials said Wednesday. “You keep hoping it’s going to level off but it’s not,” said Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center at Affiliated Community Medical Centers.
WILLMAR — A consultants’ report suggests several strategies the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter can implement to increase adoption rates for cats and reduce the amount of time they spend at the shelter. Shelter staff and board members are reviewing the recommendations and will likely adopt “most if not all” of them, said Steve Gardner, president of the board of directors. “It’s simply a matter of taking the next step,” he said.
WILLMAR — When Bev Werder started her own business, Compassionate Care, in 2002, she had just one employee — herself. Now she has 60 full- and part-time staff who provide daily help and companionship to older adults living in their own homes. Five years ago she expanded by opening Compassionate Cottage, a board and care facility with services and all the comforts of home for her aging clients. “It’s what I love to do, and it just evolved from there,” says Werder. “I never envisioned that it would grow like this.”
WILLMAR — The Willmar Area Community Foundation is casting a wide net for grant applications from local nonprofits focusing on older adults, youths, diversity or the arts. Buoyed by a recent $6 million gift, the foundation now has significantly more grant funds to award, said John Lindstrom, chairman of the board. “I just want to encourage area nonprofits to put together an application, let us take a look at it and see where it fits,” he said. “We’re pretty much open to all different kinds of applications.”
WILLMAR — Influenza cases have surged this past week in what is shaping up to be a severe flu season. Several patients were sick enough to be hospitalized, said Wendy Ulferts, chief nursing officer at Rice Memorial Hospital. “It’s keeping us very busy,” she said Wednesday. Flu is hitting harder and earlier than health providers have seen the last couple of years.
WILLMAR — Rice Memorial Hospital will soon launch a three-year effort to address obesity among adults and strengthen the hospital’s role in community health. The hospital this month received a three-year, $475,000 grant from the George Family Foundation for the Healthy Communities Partnership, a project in 13 cities in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to help community hospitals develop capacity in preventing chronic disease. Co-sponsors are Allina Health and the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
WILLMAR — To Kathie Johnson’s experienced eye, the kennels in the kitten room at the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter looked clean, but she wanted to know more about the shelter’s infection control practices. How often was the room thoroughly cleaned and disinfected? Did the staff wear gowns and latex gloves? Did they change gloves for each kennel?
WILLMAR — The Rice Regional Dental Clinic celebrated its fifth anniversary Tuesday with news of a major gift: the awarding of a $175,000 grant from Delta Dental of Minnesota. The money will help support the operational costs of the dental clinic, which serves as a training site for University of Minnesota dentistry and dental hygiene students and a source of dental care for low-income and underserved residents in west central Minnesota.
WILLMAR — Business retention, support for economic development efforts by individual cities in Kandiyohi County, and promotion of the Willmar Industrial Park, MinnWest Technology Campus and the new University of Minnesota Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center will all be at the forefront of activities next year by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. At the same time, the EDC will scale back its focus on the Willmar airport and the local health care industry.
WILLMAR — Organizers of a citizen engagement effort are waiting to see how much of the public’s perspective is reflected in a final report on recommendations for health care reform, being released today by Gov. Mark Dayton’s Minnesota Health Care Reform Task Force. Input from citizens was sought earlier this year in a series of more than 40 community meetings across the state, including one conducted in Willmar in May.