Our History

Heart of a Community: The Story of Freeman Health System
An Ozarks Public Television Production

Timeline of Freeman History

Founded on trust

John W. Freeman donated his family home, located at 2008 Sergeant in Joplin, as the site for the first Freeman Hospital in honor of their late son Orley.

After a 75-bed addition was added to the original home, Freeman Hospital opened its doors to patients, with a staff of 19 nurses and five physicians and surgeons.

Strengthened through Innovation

A state-of the art addition opened south of the hospital, complete a with six-room operating suite, air conditioned labor and delivery rooms, and 18-bed nursing home on the fifth floor.

Freeman Hospital moved to the outskirts of Joplin on a tract of land donated by Joplin businessman Myron McIntosh. The location at 1102 West 32nd Street (now Freeman West), provided room for much-needed growth and future expansion as well.

Freeman acquired Sale Memorial Hospital (now known as Freeman Neosho Hospital), extending its service to the residents of Newton and McDonald counties in southwest Missouri.

Freeman merged with Oak Hill (now Freeman East) to become Freeman Health System.

Ozark Center, the area's largest behavioral health provider, joined Freeman Health System, increasing patient access to mental healthcare.

Through a partnership with KSNF-TV 16, Freeman First Alert Doppler radar saves lives by providing early and accurate warnings of potentially dangerous storms.

Ronald McDonald celebrated the grand opening of Ronald McDonald House of the Four States on land donated by Freeman Health System.

Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute opened, bringing a unique concept in heart care to the region. It houses all facets of cardiovascular care in one location, making care more convenient and accessible to patients.

Freeman became the first healthcare system in Missouri and the sixth in the nation to earn ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9002 registration in December 2000.

The Joplin Family Y South and Freeman Wellness Center open on property owned by Freeman Health System.

Freeman Cancer Institute opens, providing the region with comprehensive cancer care including diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle management. It features some of the most advanced cancer-fighting tools and therapies available.

Freeman achieved ISO 9001:2000 registration, the most widely recognized mark of quality in the business world today.

Built around your needs

Freeman opened the largest expansion project in its history, a six-story wing that added 56 private patient rooms and tripled the size of the emergency/trauma center.

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, developed in consultation with the Cleveland Clinic Autism Consulting Group, opens an applied behavior analysis program for preschool children with autism.

Freeman Women's Center opens, offering comprehensive women's services under one roof. The center includes offices for a high-risk pregnancy physician, gynecologists, and obstetricians; Wes & Jan Houser Women's Pavilion; and Pink Door Boutique.

Freeman Center for Geriatric Medicine opens with two geriatricians, physicians who care for older patients by helping them address mobility and medication issues and connecting them with medical specialists, social services, and community resources when needed.

Freeman West becomes the only hospital in 60-mile radius to offer the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, designed to provide specialized help for victims of sexual assault.

Freeman earns ISO 9001:2008 registration.

Freeman Surgical Center opens, providing state-of-the art technology, convenience, and amenities for patients needing outpatient procedures.

Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism establishes Special Education Center to offer specialized training to students from prekindergarten through 12th grade.

The Autism Diagnostic Team begins evaluations in January 2011 at Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. Previously, families had to travel great distances to receive diagnostic services for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Thanks to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Freeman neonatal intensive care unit underwent a $1.3 million expansion and renovation. In May 2011, the expansion included the addition of 10 new beds and provided new equipment and technology, allowing more treatment for premature and critically ill babies, giving them every opportunity for a healthy life.

On May 22, 2011, a devastating EF5 multi-vortex tornado struck Joplin, taking 161 lives, injuring hundreds, and destroying roughly 8,000 structures. In the hours and days following the storm, Freeman physicians and nurses worked tirelessly to treat more than 1,700 patients, providing the best healthcare possible in the aftermath of the disaster.

Responding to our community's needs after the tornado, Freeman established a 12-bed Transitional Care Unit for patients who are still too ill for the medical floor but have progressed to the point that they no longer need the level of care provided in the Intensive Care Unit.

In July 2011, Freeman Center for Digestive Health, the largest digestive health service provider in the region, opened for business. The center provides a wide variety of treatments and services for patients with gastrointestinal conditions.

Freeman Health Academy, the first program of its kind in our community, begins. The program gives youths the opportunity to learn about employment opportunities in healthcare, and seeks to make healthcare careers more obtainable for students by helping them make the right high school class choices and encouraging them to graduate from high school.

Freeman Neosho Women’s Pavilion opened its doors in November 2011, providing Neosho residents with digital mammography and bone densitometry.


Will’s Place opened in January 2012 to provide comprehensive behavioral health services to children ages 2-18.

In early 2012, 20 new adult psychiatric beds opened at Freeman East to meet an increased need for psychiatric care.

The 5th floor of Gary & Donna Hall Tower at Freeman West opened in March 2012, adding 29 private patient rooms with advanced medical capabilities.

In March 2012, Freeman Rehabilitation & Sports Center opened. The center provides comprehensive therapy services including physical, occupational, speech, hand, aquatic, and lymphedema therapies, as well as sports performance evaluations.

On May 22, 2012, we celebrated the lives of tornado survivors, honored the memory of victims, and paid tribute to the heroic efforts of Freeman employees and other caregivers during our Morning Has Broken memorial service.

The 6th floor of Gary & Donna Hall Tower at Freeman West, dedicated to patients needing critical care services, opened in October 2012.


In March 2013, Ozark Center officially opened a second Pre-Adult Transitional Housing (PATH) apartment complex, a new residence to homeless youth in need of long-term housing, as well as assistance developing essential life skills.

On March 27, 2013, Freeman physicians, nurses, and staff unveiled and dedicated the Beacon of Hope Tornado Memorial. The memorial was constructed to pay tribute to those who survived the storm, those who were lost in the storm, and those who fought to save our community.

Freeman West opened its newly transformed cafeteria, kitchen, and servery in June 2013. Throughout the 14-month construction process, Freeman West continued to serve 1,000 meals daily, thanks to a temporary kitchen set up in mobile units outside the building.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman as number one in southwest Missouri and number four in the state for a second consecutive year. In addition, Freeman received special designation in seven high-performing specialties.

In July 2013, Freeman established a cardiology clinic in Miami, Oklahoma.

In 2013, Freeman was awarded a "Grow Your Own" grant from the Missouri Hospital Association. The $50,000 grant was used to expand Freeman Health Academy to serve students ages 10-12.

Arkansas Autism Connection was developed in 2013 by Freeman and Ozark Center in consultation with the Cleveland Clinic Autism Consulting Group. Arkansas Autism Connection provides its clients with ABA, a behaviorally based autism treatment endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Surgeon General.


Freeman announced that it has affiliated with Children’s Kansas City to enhance care for children in southwest Missouri in January 2014. As part of this collaboration, Children’s Kansas City opened a permanent location, providing seven specialty clinics, on the Freeman campus.

Freeman Ambulance Service is celebrated its tenth year of operation in May 2014. In total, it is estimated staff have responded to 23,000 emergency calls from the 540-mile McDonald County area.

Freeman Health System received the 2014 Truven Health Advantage Award for Overall Performance and the Truven Performance Efficiency Award, both of which recognize hospitals, health plans, government agencies and employers that use data analytics to improve quality of services. 

In July 2014, Freeman Health System expanded its nationally recognized cardiac care to the Grove, Oklahoma area.