Willmar is the latest Minnesota community to face major changes to its local hospital as officials negotiate a takeover by an out-of-town entity.
Rice Memorial Hospital’s board has been negotiating an “affiliation” with St. Cloud-based CentraCare behind closed doors for the last few months.
MNA nurses at Rice Memorial have taken the lead in raising concerns about the secrecy of negotiations, calling for transparency and public input into a decision that will have a major impact on patients, the community, and staff.
Nurses are attending and speaking at Willmar City Council and hospital board meetings, and talking to members of the public at the county fair and other events, urging residents to get involved in the process and ask questions.
Rice Memorial is currently a public hospital, but it would lose that status if it affiliates with CentraCare, meaning the public would no longer have a voice in its operations.
The City Council and hospital board are meeting on September 13 to discuss negotiations.
MNA nurses are asking the public to join them to learn more about these discussions and to raise questions to make sure the agreement benefits the entire community.
The meeting is at 5 p.m. on September 13 in the Willmar Conference Center.
All taxpayers, patients, and staff member has a stake in this decision. Nurses urge you to join us and find out what is in store – and share your thoughts.
Nurses and other staff could lose their pensions if the hospital becomes private. Those pensions are very important to employees who depend on their pensions to live on after many years of service to their patients and the community.
Here are some of the questions to ask:
- Will I receive the same quality of care?
- How will it affect our local economy if jobs are lost?
- Will I have to travel long distances for care I receive at home now?
- Will Rice Memorial become a feeder hospital with reduced services?
- Will Rice Memorial remain a community hospital where taxpayers keep the investments we’ve made in our hospital?
- What’s the impact on the people who work in the hospital?
- Have you looked at CentraCare agreements with other hospitals?
Nurses urge all Willmar area residents to come to the meeting and learn what is planned for the public hospital that has served the community so well for many years.