Freeman Announces Changes to Screenings and Visitor Policy
May 29, 2020
Return to Routine Operations Begins June 1
Joplin, Mo – “As we have carefully, strategically and skillfully navigated the uncertainty of the last 3 months we have longed for a return to normalcy and today we are taking steps to return to some normal procedures,” says Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. Freeman will return to pre- COVID-19 visitor hours and guidelines beginning June 1, 2020.
Freeman will also suspend the screening of patients and visitors and will no longer limit the number of visitors to just one per day. “This decision was made with careful consideration that included the input from our entire executive team and physician leadership,” says Baker.
“Please know that these decisions weren’t made lightly but were carefully thought out and planned with the safety of our patients, visitors and Freeman Family members in mind,” Baker adds. “We will continue to monitor the situation daily and make adjustments to all our policies and procedures as the need arises.”
The only exceptions will be a limit to the number of visitors who can stay the night with a patient which will be one only. Visitors will be encouraged to wear masks, limit the time spent in public areas of facilities and to practice social distancing.
Baker credits efforts of all employees with keeping the health system’s areas safe. “Because of our employees’ hard work, dedication and adherence to our policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we believe we are now able to take the next step in our plan to return to routine operations,” says Baker.
While other hospitals across the country are cutting positions and struggling to pay staff, Freeman is operating at full workforce levels and continuing to hire. Baker attributes this stability to a team approach at preparing in all ways for emergencies such as the pandemic. Freeman executives task its leaders to be financially prudent, which means leaders then encourage and educate staff (in this case) on reasons behind a Temporary Workforce Realignment Plan implemented the week of March 22, 2020 and will be suspended June 6, 2020.
In fact, a lot of departments throughout the system are already at full staff. The realignment plan utilized employees from various departments to staff screening stations during furloughs while also providing paid time off hours.
“We’re proud to say this approach worked. As we trained for emergencies with an all-hands-on-deck approach, employees stepped up with a team mindset to deal with the pandemic as successfully as possible,” says Baker.
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2019, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2019. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 70 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.