Freeman News

Freeman Earns Top Awards from American Heart Association

September 01, 2021

2021 Mission: Lifeline® NSTEMI Gold Achievement Award and Mission: Lifeline STEMI Receiving Center Silver Plus Achievement Award

Joplin, MO – Time is a critical factor in caring for heart patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical staff at Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute has faced added obstacles in the race against time, including screening patients for the contagious virus. Despite those obstacles, the Freeman hearts team earned two American Heart Association Achievement Awards for implementing quality improvement measures that ensure cardiovascular patients receive efficient and coordinated care, ultimately leading to more lives saved, shorter recovery times and fewer returns to the hospital.

Freeman Health System received the 2021 Mission: Lifeline® NSTEMI Gold Quality Achievement Award and the 2021 Mission: Lifeline® STEMI Receiving Center Silver Plus Achievement Award.

“Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute’s care team includes doctors, nurses, EMTs, technologists, and many others working in concert to deliver rapid, expert care when the patient’s life depends on it,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “These awards from the American Heart Association bear witness to our team’s compassion, dedication, and professionalism, as well as their mastery of sophisticated, life-saving procedures that can save lives and improve the quality of life for patients.”

Each year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack, which is caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

“We have worked really hard as a team to get all the data and protocols pulled together,” said cardiologist Dr. Robert Stauffer, Freeman STEMI Medical Director. “It takes multiple departments working to meet these standards and metrics to ensure that we are providing the best possible patient care. This is a testament to the great work of our system, physicians, nurses, technologists and referral and transfer partners.” 

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline and Get With The Guidelines programs help reduce barriers to prompt treatment for cardiovascular events – from when 9-1-1 is called to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge. Optimal care for heart attack patients takes coordination between the individual hospital, EMS and healthcare system. The initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care, following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.

“With dedicated physician engagement, Freeman has found success with identifying gaps in care and implementing changes to close them,” said Baker. “Freeman’s Cardiac Performance Improvement Committee examines cases to assure quality of care and safety, and our multidisciplinary committee meets twice a month to spot preventable issues and define a course of action to correct them. The work of both the cardiac performance improvement and multidisciplinary committees has directly contributed to Freeman receiving the Mission Lifeline STEMI and non-STEMI awards.”

Freeman Health System earned the awards by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for the timely and effective treatment of both NSTEMI and STEMI heart attack patients by providing emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries when needed.




About Freeman Health System

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 2020, 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 2020. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 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



About Mission: Lifeline

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Foundation clinical treatment guidelines.  For more information, visit



About Get With The Guidelines®

Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with tools and resources to increase adherence to the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 9 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit