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Bids awarded for Rice Home Medical project

Rice Home Medical in Willmar is shown in an October file photo. The retail store on 19th Avenue Southwest will be renovated and expanded after the hospital board approved bids this week. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — Renovation and expansion will get under way soon at Rice Home Medical’s retail store in Willmar, following the approval of construction bids Wednesday by the Rice Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.

The project is part of a new strategic plan to diversify Rice Home Medical services and make them more responsive to consumer needs.

“We’re moving into new service lines and more cash business,” said Bill Fenske, Rice Hospital chief financial officer. “That’s the main driver of it.”

The renovation will include the development of a women’s health “store within a store,” with its own entrance and fitting rooms for mastectomy products.

Another service being added is a repair center for wheelchairs, motorized scooters and other rehabilitation equipment.

The project also will allow Rice Home Medical to provide more home modification equipment, such as ramps and lifts, for which there’s growing demand.

Construction bids for the renovation came in at $637,000.

The general contractor will be Peters Construction of Montevideo. The major subcontractors include Vreeman Construction, Plumbing and Heating of Willmar, Magnuson Sheet Metal and Lee’s Electric.

Earlier estimates were for $803,000, Fenske said. “We came in substantially better than we thought.”

The work is expected to take six months from start to finish.

Along with renovating the store, Rice Home Medical’s administrative offices will be moved to rented space on South First Street.

Fenske said the move is permanent and will free up more space for retail.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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