Freeman News

Paula F. Baker Named to List of '50 Missourians You Should Know'

February 13, 2017

Honor highlights commitment to integrating physical and mental healthcare.

Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer, has been named to Ingram’s Kansas City Business Magazine’s “50 Missourians You Should Know” 2017 list. The honorees of Ingram’s annual tribute are recognized for careers, companies and core values that transform both local communities and the state of Missouri. The article highlights Baker’s work at Ozark Center before she was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Health System in 2012.

“I am truly honored to be named one of Ingram’s ‘50 Missourians You Should Know’ and appreciate the recognition of the work at Freeman and Ozark Center to integrate physical and mental healthcare,” said Baker. “Just as physical health problems can lead to mental distress, mental health disorders can impair physical health. By addressing both, we as a healthcare system can improve an individual’s overall well-being. That means healthier and happier families and communities.”

Additionally, Baker served as a guiding force behind the development of Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism and continues to provide leadership for the program. Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism provides evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis therapy to children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. Many families relocate to the Joplin area from across the nation for this life-changing therapy.

In 2016, the American Hospital Association (AHA), in partnership with Missouri Hospital Association, announced Baker received the Grassroots Champions Award. One hospital leader from each state is honored for his or her work in effectively educating elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital’s vital role in the community. It also recognizes those who have done an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for hospitals and advocated tirelessly on behalf of hospitals and their patients.

Additionally, Baker was appointed to serve on the Task Force for Examining Statewide Medicaid Delivery Models in 2015. The 13-member group, comprising of several state representatives and healthcare executives, was created to study the fiscal implications of expanding Medicaid managed care statewide.

Also in 2015, Baker was elected by the Board of Trustees of the AHA as an at-large delegate and member of Regional Policy Board 6. The AHA’s nine Regional Policy Boards provide the AHA Board of Trustees with grassroots perspective and insights on public policy requiring AHA advocacy.

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 2017, 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 ranked Freeman one of the top Hospitals in Southwest Missouri more than five years in a row, and the Leapfrog Group awarded Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2016 Hospital Patient Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular 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, or follow Freeman at Follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at