Freeman News

Ozark Center Deploys COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team

July 02, 2020

Show-Me Hope Staff Calming Patients 7 Days a Week

Joplin, MO – “We bring a calming presence to an already stressful situation,” says John Blake, Ozark Center Crisis Services and Show-Me Hope Team Leader. “We are also encouraging skills like breathing techniques, mindfulness and healthy habits to help them through a difficult time that is new for all of us.”

The Show-Me Hope Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) is a FEMA grant-funded statewide effort that has supported local Ozark Center response to disasters since 2011. Now crisis counselors will help citizens cope with the effects of COVID-19 in the community and during contact tracing calls.

Blake and five other Show-Me Hope staff members spend up to 13 hours a day, seven days a week, contacting those tested for COVID-19 to deliver test results and support. Calls range from two minutes to an hour in length, depending on the individual’s reaction and needs.

“They include disbelief, anger, disappointment and rejection,” says Amy DeMotta, Show-Me Hope Community Crisis Worker. “We are reaching out to 180 or more people every day.”

Ozark Center spearheads work with both the Joplin Health Department and McDonald County Health Department to help provide check-in calls and support for those in isolation and/or quarantine. The trained-trauma counselors face many questions and concerns from those getting the call.

“Can I go to work? Is my family going to get this? Do I have to keep getting tested? Did I give a lot of people COVID? And am I going to get paid? Those are just some of their questions,” says DeMotta.

Show-Me Hope team members also offer tips to help citizens understand how they can stop the spread of coronavirus and cope with the overall stress of the pandemic.

“We teach how to sanitize their home, how and when to quarantine, knowing the common symptoms and when it could be an emergency situation to call the hospital, how to cope with social isolation and general safe practices,” says Debbie Fitzgerald, Show-Me Hope Program Manager. “If someone doesn’t understand the where’s, when’s and how’s of contracting the virus, our calls may take longer. We ensure that we deliver information correctly while also supporting our citizens emotionally.” 

The recent Show-Me Hope FEMA CCP grant expands funding for the team to provide psychological first aid, emotional support and referral services as part of a Community COVID response to the ongoing pandemic. That support also extends to residents of the entire Ozark Center service area including Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties.


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 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