Freeman News

Freeman West unveils kitchen and servery transformation

June 03, 2013

Gone is a hospital cafeteria as it was once known. In its place is the sleek, modern, eco-friendly, and efficient kitchen, servery, and dining area at Freeman Hospital West.

JOPLIN, Mo.—Gone is a hospital cafeteria as it was once known. In its place is the sleek, modern, eco-friendly, and efficient kitchen, servery, and dining area at Freeman Hospital West. 

On June 3, Freeman West opened its newly transformed cafeteria, a 14-month project laden with the latest in culinary technology. The new space also allows for the introduction of hotel-style patient room service beginning in July, which will enable patients to choose from a menu of items prepared to order and delivered to the patients’ bedsides at a time of their choosing. Throughout the construction process, Freeman West continued to serve 1,000 meals daily, thanks to a temporary kitchen set up in mobile units outside the building. 

“Freeman has transcended the very definition of a traditional hospital cafeteria,” said Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. “Once again, the health system is positioned to be recognized for yet another standard of excellence.”

Stocked with Energy Star appliances and low-flow faucets, the eco-friendly kitchen will transform food preparation while reducing energy consumption. Instead of frying foods, the utilization of Combi ovens, which combine steam and convection cooking, provides the same crisp coating as a fryer but does so with 30 percent less cooking time and without the unhealthy use of oils. A new produce-cleaning system tumble-washes fruits and vegetables, eliminating 99 percent of the foods’ bacteria. A state-of-the-art dishwashing system features a rotating water sprayer that cleans using fewer chemicals and 20 percent less water than previously required. Light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs located throughout the newly renovated space will last for 20 years. 

Other impressive technology includes a Turbochef oven that heats a 16-inch pizza in 4.5 minutes, as well as an induction cooker that heats five cups of water in 45 seconds. 

The servery—the food court-style space where guests select their meals—includes traditional home-style favorites, hand-stretched pizzas, grilled sandwiches, tossed to order salads, and made to order cooking that incorporates flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America, and other regions of the world.

Meal service at Freeman West neither ceased nor slowed during the construction. Completing the project in four phases, Freeman first established a temporary dining room while renovating the existing dining area. Once that step was completed, a temporary service area was established while the kitchen and servery underwent a remodel. The project was complex, requiring each step to be carefully considered in order to ensure that the quality of food service did not diminish. Now completed, the new dining area covers 2,579 square feet, the servery 2,809 square feet, and the kitchen 6,205 square feet. 

“This space is more than just a cafeteria. Just like the kitchen is the heart of every home, so, too, is this the heart of Freeman West,” said Debi Koelkebeck, Freeman Vice President of Retail Service Operations. “This is where the families of our patients can find a quiet moment of solace. This is where a new life just brought into the world can be celebrated. This space is where employees can refresh and rejuvenate.”

The servery and dining area, which seats 140 guests, will be open seven days a week. 

About Freeman Health System

Based in Joplin, Mo., and proudly recognized as the Best Hospital in southwest Missouri—as well as ranked #4 in the state—by US News & World Report, Freeman Health System provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services, including cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurosciences, orthopaedics, and women’s services. The area’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system, Freeman has more than 300 physicians representing 60 specialties serving southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. For more information, visit or, or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at