Ozark Center awarded grant by Missouri Foundation for Health

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - Ozark Center awarded grant by Missouri Foundation for Health
JOPLIN, Mo.—A $1.5 million grant awarded to Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman Health System, will fund continued mental health recovery efforts for the Joplin community following the May 2011 tornado. Awarded by Missouri Foundation for Health, the grant will allow Ozark Center to continue its transitional disaster recovery.

“Research indicates that at this point in the recovery from a widespread incident such as the May 2011 tornado, more severe traumatic reactions begin to emerge,” said Phil Willcoxon, Ozark Center Chief Executive Officer. “This results in problems with day-to-day tasks and significant personal, work, and school-related issues. Ozark Center is very grateful to Missouri Foundation for Health for providing this funding for the residents of our community, who continue to struggle with the trauma of May 22, 2011.” 

The grant will enable Ozark Center to provide services to uninsured or underinsured adults who need therapy as a result of storm-related issues. It will also allow Ozark Center to continue its telepsychiatry program with the University of Missouri-Columbia, which uses innovative television technology to connect local residents to mental health providers at the college. Following the May 2011 tornado, many residents experienced intense reactions to the trauma they endured, resulting in a greater need for psychiatric services in our area. The telepsychiatry program ensures that Ozark Center can help all local residents in need of mental health treatment. 

In addition, the funding from Missouri Foundation for Health aided in the purchase of the SchoolMessenger Talk About It® service, a free 24-hour communication tool that allows students to text or online message when they are faced with problems that might warrant adult intervention, including depression, family concerns, suicidal thoughts, or problems related to the tornado. Ozark Center’s Access Crisis Intervention Team will be available to respond 24/7 to these texts or online messages. Joplin School officials can also access electronic messages from students. 

The grant will fund the fulltime employment of four community crisis workers to continue second-year recovery efforts, such as the Map Your Neighborhood initiative, a free nine-step program designed to prepare residents for self-reliance during the first 72 hours after any disaster. Map Your Neighborhood offers instructions that should be taken immediately after a disaster. It also instructs neighbors to survey each other to determine the skills and equipment each has that will be useful for an effective disaster response. The program will help residents create a map identifying the locations of exterior natural gas meters and propane tanks, as well as the neighbors who may need assistance, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and children who are alone during certain hours of the day. 

About Freeman Health System
Based in Joplin, Missouri, Freeman Health System is the area’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system, serving southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. Freeman provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services, including cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurosciences, orthopaedics, and women’s services, with more than 300 physicians representing 60 specialties. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com or facebook.com/freemanhealthsystem, or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at twitter.com/freemanceo.

About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Missouri, Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.