Freeman Medical Musings Blog

Keep Up With Your Health

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As the leaders of healthcare in Joplin and surrounding areas, you rely on us to keep your informed and healthy. Locally Owned, Nationally Recognized means we're here for you every step of the way. 

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Volunteering with patient

Nov 23, 2021

Volunteering: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

There is one gift you can add to your Christmas list this year that will keep on giving, and it’s completely free! What is this gift you might ask? The gift of volunteering.

Freeman Volunteers make a difference in the community by lending patients and visitors a helping hand during their time of need. When you join our team of volunteers, you choose where you would like to work – Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East or Freeman Neosho Hospital. You also select the volunteer position that best suits you. Our goal is to match your interests with our needs.

Volunteer locations include:

  • Freeman Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute
  • Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute
  • Freeman Gift Gallery
  • Intensive Care Unit
  • Information Desk
  • Surgery Check-In Desk

Volunteering at Freeman can be very rewarding, and there are many reasons our volunteers love being a part of our program

Helping Patients

People who come to the hospital often have stress or anxiety about their current situation. Our volunteers enjoy greeting our patients and visitors with a smile. Volunteers at the information desk help guide patients and visitors to locations in the hospital. Likewise, our volunteers at Freeman Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute provide a calming spirit and listening ear for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Meeting New People

Freeman Volunteers are like a family and support one another. Our volunteers come from all walks of life. We have volunteers who are students, retirees and people who are actively in the workforce. Anyone aged 16 to 90+ can volunteer at Freeman. If you like people and want to help people, this is the program for you.

Helping the Community

When you join the Freeman Volunteer Program you also become a member of the Freeman Auxiliary, which is another way to help the community. Freeman Auxiliary raises money to provide funds for hospital equipment, services, scholarships, community needs and more. Our volunteers in Freeman Gift Gallery help ring up customer purchases, and all proceeds from Freeman Gift Gallery sales support Freeman Auxiliary projects.

Ready to give the gift of your time? Contact the Freeman Volunteer Program Manager at 417.347.4603 or visit to learn more.

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Nov 05, 2021

How Walking Can Benefit People with Diabetes

People with diabetes work continuously to keep blood sugars in a healthy range to avoid developing diabetic complications.

Eating healthy and taking medications as prescribed are only part of the plan. The American Diabetes Association also recommends 30 minutes or more of daily physical activity to help control blood sugars.

Physical activity has many benefits for overall health, such as boosting energy, improving mood, controlling weight, reducing stress and promoting better sleep. It can also be social and enjoyable and help manage other health conditions, in addition to diabetes.

Any physical activity is beneficial, but many people manage blood sugars and weight with simply walking each day. Walking is a great way to exercise for many reasons. It is low impact, it can be done anywhere inside or outside, all ages can take part and it is free! More than half the muscles in your body are designed for walking, which makes it a very natural movement that can be done at any pace.

How can walking help control blood sugars though? Normally the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin when you eat. Insulin acts as a key to allow glucose from the blood stream to enter the body’s cells and other tissues, lowering the blood sugar level. With diabetes, most people develop resistance to insulin making it harder for glucose to enter cells and tissues. Walking and other exercises decrease insulin resistance, improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.

Walking can also enhance weight loss, which can aid in blood sugar control. Walking may help the body burn calories and increase metabolism by building muscle mass. A weight loss of even 7 – 10% can help with insulin response and improve blood sugar control.

Remember to ensure safe physical activity with any exercise, including walking:

  • Test blood sugars before and after walking.
  • Always warm up before exercise with easy, gentle movements and cool down at the end of exercise by slowing down the activity and stretching the muscles.
  • Wear the appropriate clothing for comfort and wear well-fitting athletic shoes to prevent blisters, cuts and sores.
  • Prevent dehydration by bringing a water bottle with you.
  • Always carry an ID in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a fever or have high blood sugars with positive ketones, avoid exercise until feeling better.


November is American Diabetes Month. Learn more about Freeman Diabetes Education or take a free, online Diabetes Risk Assessment at

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Flu shot

Oct 25, 2021

Importance of the Flu Vaccine

As temperatures drop, area physicians are preparing for patient visits to rise.

Flu season is right around the corner. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness, and while everyone is at risk for contracting the flu, some people, are at a higher risk of serious flu complications. This group includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years old.

So why get the flu vaccine? Receiving the annual flu vaccine has many benefits. The vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illness and the risk of serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Additionally, the flu vaccine is an important preventative tool for the population who are at a high risk. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so they will not cause illness.

Because COVID is a relatively new illness, we have little information about how flu illness might affect a person’s risk for getting COVID. We do know that people can be infected with flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. Getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19.

Precautions taken during last year’s flu season including masking and social distancing attribute to the steep decline in flu cases for the 2020 – 2021 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is anticipating a marked increase of flu cases for the 2021 – 2022 flu season due to relaxed precautions. The CDC is strongly urging any qualifying individual to receive the flu vaccine by the end of October 2021. This allows a person’s body enough time to build up an immune response for the length of the flu season.

Contact your primary care provider for any questions about the flu vaccine or to schedule your flu vaccine. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Physician Finder Line at 417.347.3767 to find the best provider for you.


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comforting hands

Sep 27, 2021

Preventing Suicide is Everyone’s Responsibility

We all face stress every day, but when the stress becomes intense or chronic, it can become a crisis and the stress can seem almost unbearable.

Anything can constitute a crisis in the right circumstances, but common crises include job loss, health problems, natural disasters or changes in personal relationships.

When going through a crisis, you may experience:

  • Fear and worry about yourself or your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

You may be able to use key stress reducers to bring your stress under control. Some things you can try at home include:

  • Using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, stretching and meditation
  • Engaging in a hobby and trying to do something daily that you enjoy
  • Talking to loved ones or friends when stress builds
  • Getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet on a regular basis
  • Exercising daily and taking time to play with your children and pets

Everyone struggles from time to time. If stress, anxiety or depression interfere with daily activities, though, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

Any time our emotions interfere with our daily living, our sleep or our ability to enjoy satisfying relationships, it is best to seek support or guidance from a professional. On average, many people delay seeking help for months or years, essentially causing significant life disruption during this period. Some may progress to the point of considering suicide as an option to escape the pain of living.

A person dies by suicide every 11.1 minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is in the top ten causes of deaths for adults and the second leading cause of death for 10- to 34-year-olds. The CDC reports suicide rates increased 33% between 1999 and 2019, with a small decline in 2019.

“No other type of death increases risk of suicide for survivors, impacts everyone universally, and is also the most preventable cause of death,” said Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “Preventing suicide is everyone’s responsibility. Please join us in becoming an advocate for suicide prevention.  Education and awareness can eliminate suicide as a cause of death for any age group. Learning how to talk to someone and understanding the warning signs of suicide might prevent someone you love from dying by suicide.”

Ozark Center has both in-person and telehealth services, which enable you to have your appointment with your Ozark Center provider on your laptop, tablet or phone. For more information or to make an appointment for either type of service, call 417.347.7600.

If you need immediate help, you can reach the 24/7 Crisis Services hotline by calling 417.347.7070 or texting “REGISTER” to 720.7.TXTOZK. The crisis staff is ready to provide assessments, interventions and referral services for both individuals and families, as well as provide training and consultations to healthcare providers, educators and community leaders. All crisis services are free and strictly confidential.

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man cutting vegetables

Sep 09, 2021

Superfoods For A Healthy Prostate

Socrates gave wise advice when he said, “Let food be thy medicine.” Indeed, what men eat can make a positive, or negative, difference to their prostate health.

During Prostate Health Awareness Month, we’re reminded there’s strong evidence good nutrition, and an active lifestyle, can boost your prostate health, reduce the likelihood of prostate cancer and slow its progression.

“For prostate health, a heart healthy balanced diet is a prostate healthy diet. Enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day is a good start,” explained Ashley Southern-Devoe. Nurse Practitioner at Freeman Urology Associates. “Remember to drink coffee, soda, black tea and alcohol in moderation since they can exacerbate urinary symptoms.” 

Eating a variety of colorful foods and increasing intake of anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants, may go a long way to protecting the prostate and preventing prostate cancer. Recommended changes from the Prostate Cancer Foundation include a diet high in colorful vegetables, low in sugar and processed carbohydrates and moderate in animal-based protein (taking advantage of the health benefits of beans, nuts, soy, and certain fish). Some might refer to this as a version of the Mediterranean Diet. Other healthy foods choices include:

Cruciferous Vegetables

Things like cabbage, bok choy, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Broccoli, often hailed as prostate super food, contains Glucpraphanin, a phytochemical researchers suggest can convert to substances that potentially target and prevent cancer cell growth. Studies suggest that eating cruciferous vegetables can also lower inflammation, which is related to the risk of getting prostate cancer.


Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants that help neutralize and remove free radicals from the body.


Certain cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines and trout provide the “good fats” that don’t trigger inflammation the same way as saturated animal fats such as beef fat. Recently, scientists have begun to see inflammation within the prostate as a dangerous condition that can make it easier for cancer to take hold. Keep in mind, not all fish is created equal. Canned tuna, shrimp, lobster, scallops and “other” fish are more inflammatory than “dark-meat” fish like salmon or red snapper. For those not wild about fish, try replacing animal fat with vegetable fat.

Cooked Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one food that’s been on the list for prostate health for years because the lycopene in tomatoes is a powerful antioxidant. The cooking process makes it easier for men’s bodies to access the antioxidant and send it to the prostate. Tomato paste and juice can help men’s bodies as well. By the way, cooking tomatoes in olive oil, helps the body absorb lycopene.

Green Tea

Green tea is another source of antioxidants which are believed to be anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic. A systematic review of multiple studies published in Medicine® (Baltimore) suggested men who drank seven cups of green tea per day had a decreased risk of prostate cancer.

Living well, with healthy eating and lifestyle habits, can go a long way to reduce prostate cancer risk. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. So, it’s worth taking the time when grocery shopping, preparing meals and going out to eat, to make smart food choices for better prostate health.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) challenges Americans to show their support for men affected by prostate cancer by taking a simple challenge to eat 30 healthy foods during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September. PCF’s “Eat It to Beat It” campaign is a national effort to raise awareness about prostate cancer and show that making healthy lifestyle choices can potentially reduce the risk for developing prostate cancer and improving outcomes.

Ashley Southern-Devoe, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, at Freeman Urology Associates, is devoted to providing patients the opportunity to express their concerns and getting their questions answered. The team at Freeman Urology Associates, including Drs. James Frogge and David Anderson, specialize in high-quality care and offering information on the latest treatment and therapy options to help men live a healthier life. For more information about having regular screenings for optimal prostate health, call 417.347.3703 or visit


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Breastfeeding mother

Aug 24, 2021

A Celebration of the Breastfeeding Journey

August is National Breastfeeding Month and a celebration of the breastfeeding journey many mothers choose to take after having a baby.

Breastfeeding is an excellent way to provide babies with the nourishment their little bodies need as they grow. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least a year, with an introduction of solid foods at six months.

Colostrum, mother's first milk, is a concentrated source of nutrients and disease-fighting antibodies. As the baby grows, a mother’s breastmilk changes to meet her child’s nutritional needs, increasing in volume as baby gets older. The content of breastmilk also changes during baby’s growth spurts (increased fat content) and illnesses (increased antibodies), and it even changes from day to night, with milk at night containing more elements that will help baby sleep well. No matter the stage, though, breastfeeding can also reduce a child's risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, colds, gut infections, childhood cancers, diabetes and even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), just to name a few.

There are also many benefits to breastfeeding for mothers. Breastfeeding promotes faster weight loss, helps contract the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size, helps with postpartum blood loss and can reduce the risk of female cancers. Additionally, breastmilk is free, always available and never gets recalled.

If a mother decides to breastfeed, Freeman Certified Lactation Consultants are available throughout their journey. We offer prenatal breastfeeding classes (currently cancelled due to COVID-19), breastfeeding assistance throughout the hospital stay and outpatient services for any problems or questions that may arise after going home. Our services are available to all individuals, even those who may have delivered at other locations.

For more information about Freeman Lactation Services, call 417.347.1067.

About the author

Rachel Jobe, BS, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant at Freeman.

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construction workers

Aug 09, 2021

Keeping the Four States Working

Occupational Medicine in Joplin, Missouri

Healthy workers are safer workers! Led by a board-certified occupational medicine physician, the occupational health specialists at Freeman OccuMed dedicate their careers to improving and maintaining employees’ health at work. Staying healthy and being safe at work leads to fewer accidents, reducing stress and giving employees more time to enjoy life. OccuMed uses evidence-based practices shown to improve outcomes and reduce lost time at work.

OccuMed is committed to patient-focused care, enhancing worker safety by minimizing workplace hazards, and improving job satisfaction by helping employees return to whole health, and to work, as quickly as possible.

"We improve the health of the communities we serve by tailoring a personal plan for employees during the lifespan of their career, from starting as a new hire through to enjoying a retirement full of wellness,” said Kathryn Charlton, Freeman OccuMed Director of Operations. “Over 450 area businesses partner with OccuMed to be their high quality, fair-cost solution for work injury prevention and treatment.”

Freeman OccuMed compassionately cares for employees of diverse work environments at each stage of employment by providing:

  • Drug and alcohol testing to support a drug-free workplace.
  • Physicals to match workers to jobs they can safely perform.
  • Specialty physical exams (DOT, hazmat, forklift, respiratory and more) so employees can enter or remain in a chosen career.
  • Timely referrals to other specialties keeping workers on the road to recovery.
  • Monitoring for hearing loss, exposure to hazardous materials and respiratory protection programs to maintain OSHA compliance.
  • Workers’ compensation injury care, physical therapy and comprehensive case management to rehab injured employees and return them to work.
  • Ergonomic evaluations to teach proper body mechanics for lifting and carrying to reduce injuries.
  • Telemedicine to enable workers to connect with a physician without having to go to a clinic.


Freeman OccuMed is pleased to welcome Dr. Dennis Estep, Medical Director, who has over 25 years of experience working with area companies and industries and providing care to regional employees. We’re confident Dr. Estep will both enhance OccuMed’s daily operations and future growth. Call Tera Lankard, Employer Relations Manager, at 417.347.6950, to schedule a tour of OccuMed and learn what we can do for your business and your employees.

Three convenient Freeman OccuMed locations:

3201 McClelland Boulevard

336 South Jefferson Street

1500 South Case Street

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Tuberculosis Day png

Mar 24, 2021

Take A Deep Breath and Learn More About TB

A breath of fresh air is a great thing, and on World TB (tuberculosis) Day, we’re reminded of the importance of breathing with confidence.

Each year on March 24, World TB Day raises public awareness and understanding about the disease. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, TB is a health threat that’s far from gone and still a major health risk around the globe. Approximately 15 million people in the U.S. are infected with the disease and without intervention, approximately 10% of those people will develop TB, and that can affect those of us living in the four-state region.

“Typically, babies and young children, people infected with HIV or chronic disease(s), the elderly, people with a compromised or weak immune system and those who spend long periods of time near others with TB are more at risk,” explained Grant Pierson, DO. “TB is a contagious infection that usually attaches to the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body such as the brain and spine. It’s transmitted from person to person in the air, often via coughing and sneezing, and people nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected.”

Those infected typically have had close, daily contact with someone who has the disease, such as a family member, friend or co-worker. You're not likely to get infected from someone coughing in line at the store or at a restaurant and items such as dishes, drinking glasses, clothing or sheets don’t spread TB. In most people who become infected, the body can fight the bacteria from growing. Then, the bacteria become inactive, although they remain alive in the body and can become active later. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI).

Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease and the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. In other people, especially those who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active and cause TB disease. People with LTBI can take medicine so that they’ll never develop TB disease. Symptoms of TB commonly include coughing up phlegm or blood, having a consistent fever, night sweats, chest pain, unexplained weight loss and fatigue.

Breathing well is a blessing each and every day. If you think you are experiencing labored breathing or symptoms of TB, the Freeman Lung Institute can help you determine the healthiest options forward. The Lung Institute specializes in high-quality care and offers information on the latest treatment and therapy options to help their patients live a stronger life. Talk to your primary care physician about your lung health today or call our office at 417.347.8315 or visit

About the Author

Grant Pierson, DO, specializes in pulmonary and sleep medicine. He earned his medical degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri; performed his residency at St. John Medical Center in Westlake, Ohio; and completed his pulmonary critical care medicine fellowship at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colorado. He completed his sleep medicine fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. He is currently seeing patients at the Freeman Lung Institute.

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Kidney Care image

Mar 18, 2021

Managing Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 Americans and presents without any noticeable symptoms in the vast majority of patients upon initial diagnosis.

When referred to the clinic, many of my patients do not realize that their CKD is something they may have already had or have been at risk for quite some time.

Our kidneys are responsible for a number of functions: filtering blood for toxins, removing waste and excess fluids from our body, regulating blood pressure, balancing important electrolytes and minerals, keeping acids in balance, and stimulating red blood cell production, amongst many other processes. When our kidneys are compromised in their ability to carry out any of these tasks, the consequences can be debilitating and even life-threatening.

CKD progresses from stage 1 to stage 5, after which point patients require kidney replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant. Unfortunately, many patients are at risk to progress very quickly to kidney failure, whereas others can maintain stable kidney function or worsen only very gradually. Disease progression can often be slowed down when patients take an active role in making healthy lifestyle changes.

The most common causes of CKD in Americans are diabetes and high blood pressure. Roughly 37% of the US population have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, and 45% of US adults have high blood pressure. Both diseases are perpetuated by unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Making strides towards more disciplined food selections, portion-control, increasing physical activity, and eliminating smoking will help decrease the risk of CKD. These healthy lifestyle choices can also slow CKD progression.

While smoking is a well-known cause of cancer, it is important for patients to understand that it also leads to heart, lung and kidney disease as well. Smoking increases blood pressure and narrows blood vessels in various organs, decreasing oxygen and precious nutrients that are vital to normal body functioning.

Always let your doctor know if you are taking additional supplements or over-the-counter medications. Be sure to take medications only as prescribed. Many medications can be affected by CKD if the kidneys cannot process those substances as a result of being damaged. Likewise, some medications contribute to developing CKD such as antacid medications and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of antacids that can affect CKD risk are pantoprazole, omeprazole and esomeprazole. Examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil®, Aleve®, Motrin®, Mobic® (also known as meloxicam) and Celebrex® (also known as celecoxib).

In the kidney clinic, we are careful to make sure our patients are on the correct medications and doses for their kidney function. We work with you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure you have the information you need to understand what steps you can take to regain control of your health.

Meet regularly with your healthcare provider to screen for risk factors for kidney disease. You may benefit from a kidney consultation.



Patients who require dialysis management face several changes, and with those changes sometimes come unexpected challenges. Freeman Health System helps dialysis patients who are in financial need through the Freeman Kidney Fund, which has been used to help patients with transportation, acquiring medications and other aspects of treatment. The March O’ The Kidney Walk is an annual fundraising event for the Freeman Kidney Fund. We are excited to announce this will be held May 8, 2021. You can register at We look forward to seeing you there.

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Nutrition Month Blog Post 2021

Mar 10, 2021

Personalize Your Plate to Meet Nutrition Needs

When you think about healthy eating, what comes to mind?

Do you picture an endless parade of grilled chicken and bland salads? Or maybe you think of the seemingly boundless string of diets? Fat free, keto, plant-based, intermittent fasting and every other diet seem to have an expert who endorses it. All of this can become confusing and overwhelming.

To combat this barrage of conflicting information, each March is National Nutrition Month. This campaign is from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and promotes nutrition education. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” Healthful eating is not one-size-fits-all, but there are some common elements in healthy eating patterns. Below are four ideas to help you get started:

Eat a Variety of Foods from Many Different Food Groups

Look for a rainbow of vibrant colors in fruits and vegetables. Fresh, frozen, canned and dried all have their place in a healthy diet. Consider mixing it up with protein by adding nuts, seeds and beans. Variety in foods is a great way to add essential vitamins and minerals. For more ideas, visit

Take Time to Enjoy the Food You Eat

Limiting distractions by turning off the TV or computer is a great first step, but have you tried “setting the mood?” Try setting the table with your favorite dishes, sharing the meal with people you love or lighting some candles.

Select Foods that Make You Feel Good

Eating with food allergies, intolerances or with chronic disease can provide an extra challenge. Learning to eat in ways that support your underlying health conditions can take time and feel defeating, but when you listen to your body’s feedback, you can begin to personalize and enjoy your diet.

Plan Ahead

Keep a grocery list going on paper or in an app in your phone. Buy foods that are easy to grab for a quick snack or that can be packed easily. Create menus that use leftovers in new ways. For example, tonight’s roasted chicken can become tomorrow’s chicken and veggie noodles.

If you need help with setting individualized eating plans, please seek the advice of a registered dietitian nutritionist or your physician.


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