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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Shortage of doctors starting to show throughout state

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We keep hearing that Wisconsin will have a severe shortage of doctors by 2030. Well, 2030 is now for some expectant parents, after two small-town hospitals said they would no longer deliver babies. Rusk County Memorial Hospital in Ladysmith said 11 days ago it would stop performing routine child-births in March -- forcing parents to drive about 30 miles to Rice Lake or even further. Over the weekend, we learned that Neillsville Memorial Hospital in Clark County would stop delivering babies on February 15th except for emergencies. Those mothers will have to go another 25-miles-or-so to Marshfield or Black River Falls, or 50 miles away to Eau Claire. About 30 infants were born at Neillsville last year, and 58 at Ladysmith. Four U-W institutions recently announced a physician training program. The Medical College of Wisconsin plans satellite campuses in Green Bay next year and Wausau in 2016 to train more rural doctors for the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin. Back in 2011, the Wisconsin Hospital Association warned that the state would have a severe doctor shortage by 2030 unless more are trained.

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Fewer Wisconsinites are filing for bankruptcy as the economy improves. Almost 23-thousand state residents sought protections in federal bankruptcy court last year. That's down by almost 10-percent from 2012, and 25-percent lower than in 2010 when the Great Recession was just starting to loosen its grip. Three-fourths of last year's Wisconsin bankruptcy filings were under Chapter-Seven, the kind that wipes out credit card, medical, and utility debts. Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney James Miller says most of the blue-collar workers who've lost their jobs or are under-employed have already filed for bankruptcy. Also, Miller says many people have reduced their credit card debt. However, more folks are leaning on high-interest payday loans, as it's become harder for them to get new credit cards. Still, Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer Robert Waud says business appears to be getting back to what it was before the recession. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says bankruptcies due to job losses are getting more historically proportionate to the other major reasons for personal bankruptcies -- major medical expenses and divorce. Madison attorney Claire Ann Resop says lenders appear to be more willing to work with troubled borrowers than they did during the recession.  

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A 20-year-old man is facing criminal charges after he allegedly struck a newspaper delivery tricycle in Manitowoc -- and the tricyclist was stuck through the car's windshield until the driver got home. The driver was allegedly drunk at the time. Police said he ran through a stop sign and hit another vehicle along the way. The tricyclist, 56-year-old Steven Gove, was delivering the Lakeshore Chronicle when the incident happened on Saturday night. Gove tells WLUK T-V in Green Bay that driver never knew he was stuck in the windshield until he got home and asked who he was. Gove told him quote, "I'm the guy you hit on the bicycle ... I went through your windshield." He said the driver then "freaked out" and tried locking Gove inside the car. Gove said he calmly got out and walked down a street, and police found him about a block away. Gove was treated at a hospital for minor scrapes. The alleged drunk driver was treated for a significant hand cut. Police say they're still trying to find the driver of the car the suspect hit.

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A five-year-old Wisconsin boy with a rare type of childhood cancer has been deluged with hundreds of greeting cards. Colin Cahill of Milton is undergoing a long treatment program for neuro-blastoma. He was diagnosed last November, when a tumor was discovered -- and cancer spread around both his kidneys and into his spine. A relative, Holly Kutz, tells the Janesville Gazette she wanted to do something positive for Colin -- so she told the youngster's story on Facebook and sought greeting cards. People from as far away as Japan and England responded. The Secret Service sent photos of President Obama's pets. The Green Bay Packers sent a bunch of things, including a greeting from Aaron Rodgers. All told, Colin has received abut 500 Christmas cards. His mother, Kristie Briggs, said all of them have made her son smile. Meanwhile, Kutz hopes to attract another 300 cards for the youngster for Valentine's Day. She wants to continue getting him greetings throughout the year as he faces more chemo-therapy, surgery, and a possible bone marrow transplant. State insurance covers most of the expenses. The Milton community has gotten behind the family as well. The Cove Bar held a New Year's Day meat raffle, and the place was said to be packed.

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Many Wisconsinites will have time to reflect on Martin Luther King today -- while others will have to do so on the run. It's the annual holiday which honors the civil rights leader who was murdered in 1968 -- but after more than three decades, it's still a holiday that's mainly observed in the state's larger communities where there's more diversity. It is a state-and-federal holiday, which means you won't get any mail -- and you'll only get limited services. Many local governments and schools are open in smaller places. Banks and other businesses are generally open. The state government will hold its 34th annual King Day observance at noon at the State Capitol. As usual, Governor Scott Walker will begin his King Day at the Y-M-C-A's annual breakfast in Milwaukee before heading to the Capital City. Also in Milwaukee, musical performances and a play about Martin Luther King's assassination will take place at a north side church, followed by a three-block march to King's statue. The Milwaukee Justice Coalition is sponsoring those events.

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The recent snow is being blamed for a traffic death in rural southeast Wisconsin. A 77-year-old woman died yesterday morning, after a car slid off a a Dodge County road near Clyman and hit a railroad crossing gate. The driver was a 77-year-old man from Jefferson. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The woman was his passenger. She was flown to a hospital in the Waukesha County town of Summit, where she died later. The crash is still being investigated. The victims' names were not immediately released.  

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The recent cold weather is blamed for a train derailment in Racine County. Nineteen cars of a 135-car Union Pacific coal train jumped the tracks yesterday morning in Caledonia. State railroad commissioner Jeff Plale said the train struck rails that were cracked by the brutal cold from two weeks ago. Nobody was injured. None of the materials that spilled were hazardous. Plale said there's a lot of twisted metal that needs to be cleaned up, but he does not consider it a major incident. The train was heading from Wyoming to a power plant in Sheboygan on busy tracks used only for freight trains.

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