Willmar nurses urge community residents to ask questions about hospital affiliation plans at Sept. 13 meeting

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.


  1. You are trying to make trouble where their is none. Your nurses feel they need a say more then anyone else in all the facilities that are involved. Why they think their opinion is more important an any other employee is behind me.
    I work at Rice Hospital. I don’t feel like it’s been a secret. They are answering everyone’s questions with the knowledge they have.
    Again you the nurses union are trying to stir up trouble.

  2. The nurses at Rice are currently unionized. Centracare is non-union, therefore the union is trying to make problems. The hospital would remain city owned and Centracare has indicated it has no desire to disrupt already established referral patterns. Rice employees are update by weekly emails. It has been as transparent as feasibly possible since the details are still months in the making.

  3. What department do you work in, Jennifer Mills? The nurses are speaking up for ALL employees to get the answers ALL employees should want to know. The hospital claims all the details will be worked out and the contract signed, sealed and delivered Jan. 1. That is barely 3 months from now and employees have to be “screened” (or fired and rehired) BEFORE then, as well as determine who are going to be the directors or “leaders”, what the salaries will be, what type of care delivery system will be used on EACH unit and in EVERY dept., etc. There is LOTS to be done/decided and why wouldn’t they want employee input to help make a smooth transition? Sounds like you’ve got some sour grapes, Jennifer. If you are at least a half-time employee and get benefits, YOU should be concerned (or at least CURIOUS) about what you’re going to get/get taken away from you Jan. 1.

  4. Anonymous: Do you REALLY think that Jan. 1 start date for CentraCare is feasible to determine all the things that need to be decided (including firing and rehiring employees and determining leadership)? Good luck!
    And, why would they NOT want employees involved in decisions re: patient care and how the transition should go? I wouldn’t call that “transparent’ the way things have been handled so far.

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