(Joplin, MO) – Ozark Center staff, Freeman Health System leaders, and state and federal politicians cut the ribbon on the first and only urgent care for behavioral health issues in the southwest Missouri region. Ozark Center Urgent Behavioral Solutions (UBS) offers an alternative to the emergency room and saves time and money for individuals 16 and older who have significant behavioral health symptoms.
“Ozark Center and Freeman Health System are dedicated to removing barriers between behavioral and physical health,” says Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe the two go hand-in-hand, and our caregivers continually look for innovative approaches to integrating mental and physical healthcare. Urgent Behavioral Solutions is one of those innovative approaches. Nearly one in five adults has a mental illness in any given year, so integrating mental health services with physical healthcare is vitally important.”
“There is a significant gap in emergency behavioral healthcare in our community,” says Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “Individuals experiencing mental illness often have difficulty accessing timely urgent mental healthcare. In addition, the mortality gap is increasing because individuals with serious mental illness have a higher prevalence of chronic medical conditions than the general population.”
UBS includes a multi-disciplinary team and provides a trauma-informed place to receive care, meaning it emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety.
“The goal is to treat the whole person by blending the expertise of behavioral health and primary medical care,” says Mieseler. “This approach saves lives, reduces negative health outcomes, facilitates quality care, and promotes efficiency and cost savings.”
The facility is funded by a reoccurring two-million-dollar federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA has reported a nearly 900% increase in the number of calls to its crisis hotline since last year. Isolation, anxiety, economic uncertainty, and limits on in-person counseling during the pandemic have created the perfect storm for an unprecedented—and potentially deadly—mental health crisis.
The funding for the new behavioral urgent care clinic provides for a staff of twelve to fifteen employees who provide both behavioral and medical health treatment.
UBS opens October 1, 2020, and has extended hours for those with behavioral health urgent needs. It is open 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Friday and has weekend hours of 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
Find more detailed information about UBS at ozarkcenter.com/UBS.
About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Mo., Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.
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 freemanhealth.com.
Lisa Olliges, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System