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WILLMAR -- There used to be a time when Rice Memorial Hospital had 60 or more patients occupying beds on a daily basis. Then the number slid to 50, then to 40. Inpatient volume has dropped sharply again in the past couple of months, and hospital officials are beginning to suspect this might be permanent. Patient admissions are 10 to 12 percent lower than they were a year ago, said Bill Fenske, the hospital's chief financial officer. "For much of September we were seeing a census in the 20s," he said. The big question, Fe-nske said, is this: "Are we at the bottom yet?" Patient volumes and
WILLMAR -- If you show up in Rice Memorial Hospital's emergency room with symptoms of influenza, be prepared to put on a mask. It's one of the steps the hospital is taking to try to limit the growing spread of influenza. The number of people arriving in the emergency room with influenza-like illnesses has been on the rise, said Kathy Hunt, director of critical care services at Rice. "I'm thinking we're gearing up for the real thing," she said.
WILLMAR -- More women are seeking to delay pregnancy or have fewer children because of the economic impact of the recession. Many of them also report being worse off financially than they were a year ago, and there's a small percent who are sometimes skipping birth control because of the cost. The newly released report by the Guttmacher Institute provides a snapshot of how the recession is affecting women's health decisions -- findings that are echoed in what Planned Parenthood has been observing at its clinics in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. "What we're seeing is something ver
WILLMAR -- Local demand for the seasonal influenza vaccine has been so high that Affiliated Community Medical Centers has stopped scheduling appointments for people to come in and get their flu shots. At many places around Minnesota, people might have to wait a little longer this fall to receive the seasonal flu vaccine.
WILLMAR -- If you think you might have influenza, should you see a doctor? Behind the scenes, health officials are worried about the potential for widespread flu -- both the seasonal and the novel H1N1 types -- to swamp the medical system with patients who perhaps are better off staying home. Officials at Affiliated Community Medical Centers said Wednesday that they're following national recommendations for who should be evaluated and treated for suspected H1N1 influenza, often referred to as swine flu. People between the ages of 5 and 65 who are in generally good health and are not pregnan
Updated 4:30 p.m.
WILLMAR -- The face of Ryan Ruhl, flanked by two members of the Little Crow Ski Team, smiles out from the Community Marketing Coalition's latest print ad. The ad shares a few details about Ruhl: native of the Willmar area, member of the award-winning Little Crow water ski team, youth instructor in water skiing. He likes the area's friendly people and its absence of traffic jams.
WILLMAR -- Five local banks are hoping for community participation as they host an American Red Cross blood drive Friday in Willmar. "The banks have never done this before. This is new. We're rolling up our sleeves together here for a collaborative effort," said Deb Van Buren of North American State Bank. The blood drive will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rice Memorial Hospital. The goal is 65 units. Volunteer donors can make an appointment by calling the Red Cross toll-free number at 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
WILLMAR -- When they're finished with their cancer treatment, the last thing many patients want is to go back to the place where they were treated. But not too long ago, Barb Hoeft encountered a former radiation therapy patient who returned to the hospital so he could see the progress of the construction on the new Willmar Cancer Center. "He was excited for this whole experience, and he was done with his treatment," said Hoeft, director of the Willmar Cancer Center. Anticipation is starting to build for the opening of the cancer center early next year.
WILLMAR -- It might still be several weeks before a vaccine for the H1N1 novel influenza virus arrives in Minnesota. But local health providers are urging people to take early steps to protect themselves by getting vaccinated now against regular seasonal flu. "That's a line of defense," said Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center at Affiliated Community Medical Centers.