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COVID-19 cases are rising at Carris Health and community help is need to stem the tide

Carris Health CEO Mike Schramm said the health care system is currently seeing the most COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began and is asking for the community’s assistance in slowing the spread.

Back in late March, a screening tent was erected outside of the emergency department at Carris Health-Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, to evaluate patients to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now over seven months later, cases are increasing and Carris Health Co-CEO Mike Schramm is asking for the community's help in slowing the spread yet again. Erica Dischino File photo / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Carris Health and its parent company CentraCare, which operates Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, are dealing with the largest surge of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Mike Schramm, co-CEO of Carris Health, said Friday that cases are increasing in and around Willmar.

"Our numbers are certainly higher than what they were when we saw an initial surge in May," Schramm said.

Mike Schramm, Carris Health-Rice Memorial Hospital Co-CEO


Friday's COVID-19 situation report from the Minnesota Department of Health reported 92 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kandiyohi County. Statewide there were 5,454 newly reported cases on Friday, the largest single daily total ever.

The rise in cases is having an impact on not only Rice Hospital, but other medical facilities across the area.

"It has put a significant strain on our health care system," Schramm said.

Schramm said the pandemic has shown some of the benefits the hospital and the surrounding community have gained through the nearly 3-year-old merger with CentraCare of St. Cloud. He said the system has done a good job in planning for an increase in cases and taking care of patients as the need has arisen.

"I don't know how we would have been able to deal with this if we were all separate, independent organizations like we were before," Schramm said. "It has been a huge part of our response to COVID-19, the systemwide planning and preparedness efforts."

What is needed now is the community's assistance in doing what it can to slow the spread of COVID-19. The public can help by following the health safety procedures that have been urged since the pandemic began earlier this year.

"It is important for the community to be doing the right thing — masking, social distancing, avoiding group gatherings, those types of things," Schramm said. "We need the community to do its part to help us through this."

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.

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