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WILLMAR -- Local officials see anxiety, uncertainty and confusion surrounding the restructuring of Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care program. Where should these clients go for medical care? Who's going to pay the bill? "We're fielding phone calls," Mike Schramm, chief executive of Rice Memorial Hospital, said last week. "There are more questions than answers." Rice Hospital has formally opted out of a coordinated care delivery system that's being crafted to oversee medical care for GAMC enrollees.
WILLMAR -- Federal money is soon arriving in Kandiyohi County to help enhance the availability and use of broadband, especially for rural and underserved populations. The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission recently learned the county was chosen as one of 11 demonstration communities to receive funding. The $100,000 "Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities" grant is for two years and is being funneled through the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
When Ryan and Brittany Hebrink joined their first March of Dimes March for Babies in May 2007, it was with a mix of emotions. The couple, who live in Sacred Heart, had just gone through a high-risk pregnancy. Their twin sons were born prematurely on April 9, 2007. Harrison lived for only a short time after birth. Hudson, his surviving twin, was hospitalized for nearly a month in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester. The Hebrinks brought Hudson home on May 5, had him baptized the next weekend and walked in the March for Babies the weekend after that.
WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital has adopted a new policy that lays out guidelines for helping local medical groups with physician recruitment. The new policy, which was adopted unanimously Wednesday by the hospital board of directors, is similar to how Rice has offered recruitment help for the past several years. But for the first time, the guidelines are now in writing, said Mike Schramm, chief executive of the city-owned hospital. "What we haven't had in place is a more formal recruitment policy," he said.
WILLMAR -- In the latest edition of Seasons of Minnesota, there's a photo gallery of the Willmar High School music groups and another photo collection of Community Christian School's annual auction and carnival. There's an article about growing tomatoes, a recipe for pineapple pie and a two-page profile of Heritage Bank. It's always gratifying for Sheila Quinn to deliver the latest copy of the magazine into the hands of local readers. "Sometimes people will grab it and open it and start reading it right away," she said.
WILLMAR -- Rock music played Friday night as the auditorium at the MinnWest Technology Campus filled up with local Republicans and friends and supporters of Lee Byberg. Out in the parking lot sat the shiny new bus that will take Byberg's campaign on the road, starting today with stops in Glencoe, Olivia, Redwood Falls and Litchfield. Byberg, who is running on the GOP ticket against longtime Democratic Rep.
Brenda Valenzuela clutched Oscar, her mixed-breed puppy, as she waited in line Tuesday evening at the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County's neighborhood pet vaccination clinic. Oscar let out a lengthy yelp as he was injected in the leg with rabies vaccine. He was a little more stoic for his distemper shot. A quick trim of his nails and he was done. The Valenzuelas paid $20 for the two shots and received a rabies tag. Then they walked home through Regency Estates East with their dog. For Bobbie Bauman, it was one more dog in town protected from two big threats to doggy health.
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