Freeman opens fifth floor

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - Freeman opens fifth floor

JOPLIN, Mo.—Following a record-breaking month of in patient volumes, Freeman Health System celebrated the completion of the fifth floor of the Gary & Donna Hall Tower at Freeman Hospital West. Gov. Jay Nixon joined Freeman for the event, which revealed a first look at the 24,000-square-foot space.

“Joplin’s healthcare community has been an anchor for this entire region for many decades, bringing healing and vitality to the people who live and work in the Four States area,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “That was especially evident after what happened last May. With the opening of this state-of-the-art space at Freeman Hospital West, a new chapter begins in providing the best possible healthcare and in the ongoing rebirth of this city.” 

The $8 million fast-track project began in August and will provide 29 additional private cardiology, medical, and surgical beds, bringing Freeman’s bed total to 446. As progress to also finish out the sixth floor of Freeman West continues, the health system is now better positioned to care for its record numbers of patients, said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. Patients will experience decreased wait times while receiving faster admittance, treatment, and diagnosis.

“Ours is a community that does not let tragedy prevent us from acting,” said Baker. “It might seem inconceivable that a mere 297 days ago, planning for this floor had not even begun. It might seem impossible that a few short months ago much of this city lay in ruins. But look at where we are today. This community is rebuilding and, alongside it, Freeman is expanding to meet its needs.”

Baker said in nine and a half months, Freeman has taken on 10 major construction projects all in response to the tornado. “Our community needs us, and we are proud to offer our service,” Baker said.

When the Gary & Donna Hall Tower was constructed in 2007, the fifth and sixth floors were added at the recommendation of Freeman Board of Directors. Both floors were left unfinished to enable future growth. “We knew at the time this space would someday fulfill a purpose,” said Jeffrey Carrier, Freeman Chief Clinical Officer. “But we could have never imagined this floor would become the necessity it is today, given our growing patient volume since May 22. We are truly grateful to our board for their foresight and vision.”

Patient input was gathered for the design of the fifth floor, which was intentionally created to provide an atmosphere more reminiscent of a hotel than a hospital. Each patient room features ample sitting areas for family and guests. Flat-screen TVs are standard and warm colors envelop the floor. Each room is integrated with a new touch-screen call system that immediately puts patients in communication with their attending nurse.

The fifth floor is also home to eight new infusion bays, located along the expanse of windows overlooking the entrance to the hospital. There, patients will receive daily IV medications or injections. 

The fifth floor will employ 52 new clinical staff, while the sixth floor, when completed in October, will add 29 more beds staffed by an estimated 70 clinical staff.

Since May 2011, Freeman has responded to the healthcare needs of the community by embarking on a number of construction projects, including the creation of a Transitional Care Unit, the expansion of Freeman Neosho Emergency Department, laboratory enhancements, the establishment of Will’s Place, the addition of psychiatric beds at Freeman Hospital East, the construction of Freeman Rehabilitation & Sports Center, and the projects on the fifth and sixth floor of the Gary & Donna Hall Tower.

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.

Story covered by:
The Joplin Globe
Neosho Daily News
KOAM-TV 7
KZRG-Radio