Joplin, Mo - Ozark Center is using emergency grant funds from the Missouri Foundation for Health to reach patients during the pandemic. The COVID-19 Emergency Fund is supporting the purchase of telehealth licensing. “We are so grateful for this funding,” says Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker. “Telehealth has become a vital tool connecting our physicians and therapists with patients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
“We’re seeing a marked increase in telehealth counseling sessions,” says Vicky Mieseler Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “In fact, it is so effective we have seen a fifty percent drop in no-shows to appointments. Telehealth therapy is likely to become part of the new normal even after the COVID-19 crisis.”
The grant funds are also being used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for Ozark Center employees to stop the spread of COVID-19. The threat of the virus is having an impact on patients. “Stay-at-home orders mean people are isolated and that correlates directly with depression and anxiety. For patients already suffering with mental illness, the pandemic is an added source of stress,” says Mieseler.
The Missouri Foundation for Health issued the grants to help organizations like Ozark Center survive during this time of economic uncertainty to be a resource to residents now and in the future. “We know from our experience with the Joplin tornado that behavioral health issues can manifest themselves up to three years after a disaster and we anticipate more area residents needing some form of counseling help,” Mieseler added.
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 freemanhealth.com.