Freeman News

Freeman Recognized Nationally for Efforts to Improve Stroke Care

August 25, 2021

AHA Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines — Stroke Quality Achievement Award

Joplin, MO Freeman Health System has received the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines® — Stroke Quality Achievement Award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.

“We appreciate this recognition for following evidence-based clinical guidelines for stroke care,” said Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker. “The Freeman stroke team includes EMTs in the field, who communicate with our doctors and nurses at the hospital during patient transport. Because of this collaborative approach, our patients receive rapid, expert care when minutes matter most. The sooner we initiate care during a stroke, the better chance the patient has of survival and recovery.”

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and speeding recovery times.

“We are exceptionally proud of the high standard of care held by the stroke team during these challenging times” said Sharlyn Splean, Stroke Care Program Coordinator. “The Gold Plus designation is earned when this high standard has been maintained for at least 24 months. Excellent stroke care reduces deaths caused by stroke and helps to decrease the disability caused by stroke.”

Get With The Guidelines — Stroke was developed to assist healthcare professionals in providing care consistent with the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines for treating stroke patients.

“We are pleased to recognize Freeman Health System for their commitment to stroke care,” said Lee H. Schwamm, MD, national chairperson of the Quality Oversight Committee and Executive Vice Chair of Neurology, Director of Acute Stroke Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”

“This year, Freeman Health System received two additional levels of recognition that note our commitment to stroke care,” said Baker. “We made the Target: Stroke Honor RollSM  for our impressive stroke treatment times,” said Baker. “And we made the Target: Diabetes Honor Roll™ for the quality, targeted care we provide to patients with type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for stroke.”

To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke

To qualify for the Association’s Target: Type 2 Honor Roll™ award, hospitals must meet developed quality measures with more than 90% of compliance for 12 consecutive months for the “Overall Diabetes Cardiovascular Initiative Composite Score.”

“We are grateful to the Diabetic Educators for earning the Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll status,” said Splean. “Patients who have diabetes have a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and heart attack. Working with patients to improve the management of their diabetes helps prevent future strokes and heart attacks.”

Each year program participating hospitals apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to providing quality care for stroke patients. In addition to following treatment guidelines, participants also provide education to patients to help them manage their health and rehabilitation once at home.




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 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