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WILLMAR -- They come in cans with aggressive-looking labels and names like Rockstar, Monster Energy and Cocaine. Kids like them, but they -- and their parents -- may not realize the effects of consuming energy drinks supercharged with caffeine. Authorities have become concerned enough to start including information about energy drinks in the DARE curriculum taught to Willmar grade-school students, says Julie Asmus of the Willmar Police Department. "The issue is about the amount of caffeine and what it does to your body," she said. She's especially alarmed at the young ages at which some ki
WILLMAR -- A young chocolate Lab named Betsy was first to exit a trailer parked outside the back entrance of the new Hawk Creek Animal Shelter. She danced on the pavement and tugged at her leash as Dawn Olson led her to the door. "It's our first one!" Olson exclaimed. After Betsy came another dog, then three cats in carriers. It was moving day Wednesday as the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County pulled up stakes at the county Highway Department, trading its former building for a brand-new home in the Industrial Park. "It's just been so long in the making.
WILLMAR -- The phones in the occupational health department at Affiliated Community Medical Centers have been ringing like never before. Department manager Kris Gulbrandsen and her staff have been fielding tons of questions from employers about the H1N1 novel influenza virus. What symptoms should employees be on the lookout for? How long should sick employees stay home? What can workplaces do to reduce the risk of spreading germs? "It's the unknown," Gulbrandsen said. Local health officials attempted to answer many of these questions at a seminar this week for local employers.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital took extra steps in its emergency room Thursday to segregate patients in the waiting area who come in with influenza-like symptoms. A curtain went up Thursday afternoon to divide the waiting area. "We'll ask symptomatic patients with coughs and flu-like symptoms to stay on one side," said Kathy Hunt, director of critical care services. The ER also has begun restricting the number of people who can accompany the patient into the exam room.
Ask just about anyone who works with or provides services for older adults, and they'll list dementia as one of the most pervasive needs. "It's everywhere," says Sheri Nordmeyer, program director of the Willmar Community Senior Network. A new group, the West Central Dementia Awareness Network, hopes to increase the regional level of education, resources and support to help make life better for people with dementia and their families and caregivers.
WILLMAR -- The newly formed West Central Dementia Awareness Network is hosting a series of events Oct. 27 to help raise awareness of dementia and some of the resources available to help families. "Finding Your Way Through Memory Loss" will take place at Church of St. Mary in Willmar. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., virtual tours will be offered that simulate what it's like to have dementia.
WILLMAR -- A new strategic plan for Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar is likely to be crafted into final form in December. The planning process, which began in September, is continuing to move ahead, Rice CEO Mike Schramm said Wednesday. The goal was to have a final draft before the end of the year, he said. "We're still on that timeline. ... We're making a lot of progress." Although the city-owned hospital reviews its strategic direction at least once a year, it has been close to a decade since the plan received a major overhaul.
WILLMAR -- If you haven't received a flu shot yet, you'll probably have to be patient a little longer. Local health providers used up most of their initial vaccine supply in September and are still waiting for the rest of their seasonal influenza vaccine to arrive. At Family Practice Medical Center, the latest word from the manufacturer is that the complete shipment will be here by the end of November. "They've been in touch with us on a weekly basis," said Stacey Zondervan, patient services director. The arrival date is less certain at Affiliated Community Medical Centers, said Jo DeBruyc
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital provided $18.5 million worth of community benefits in 2008 -- more than 20 percent of the city-owned hospital's operating costs. The total includes benefits such as charity care, health fairs and free support groups for patients. The biggest chunk by far, however, consists of Medicare and Medicaid costs that go beyond what either of these two publicly funded programs pay Rice for providing care.
WILLMAR -- The sewing machine hums as Kate Barrett-Murphy pieces together what will become the fleece lining for a child's mitten. Pins, patterns and felted mittens in various stages of construction cover the surrounding tabletop. The finished products will be up for sale this week at the Kandi Mall, where Kate, age 10, is among more than 100 young vendors signed up for the mall's Enterprizing Kids event. "She loves creating," her mother, Shannon Barrett, said. "Maybe this will go somewhere.