(Joplin, MO) – Public transportation is important to a lot of residents in our community, but it is vital to people with mental illnesses. A new Sunshine Lamp Trolley Stop at Ozark Center’s Hope Spring location offers critical access to mental health treatment, services and support for those with mental illness.
“People struggling with mental illness and addiction are often at the mercy of public transportation to get to treatment, job interviews, and jobs,” says Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “Having reliable, affordable transportation to and from appointments is a struggle in a lot of communities. Until now, the closest trolley stop was a long way from our Hope Spring facility and required traveling by foot on a very busy road. We are very grateful for the Sunshine Lamp Trolley and the City of Joplin. The addition of the new stop at our Hope Spring facility will ensure that more residents get access to the treatment they need.”
Hope Spring clients advocated for the stop by attending city meetings, which mental health experts say was a positive action in itself.
“It shows how becoming involved in civic activities results in positive outcomes for those who so often feel unheard and powerless,” says Del Camp, Ozark Center Chief Clinical Officer. “Aside from the obvious benefit of accessing much-needed services, participating in the process allowed clients to gain a sense of control and influence in their day-to-day lives. Research clearly demonstrates that rates of mental illness decrease as individuals experience more control over their environment.”
As a community care provider, Hope Spring often serves the underinsured and the poor, for whom lack of transportation can be a barrier to care. The new trolley stop shows the city’s commitment to recognizing that mental health disorders are an aspect of the overall health of Joplin citizens and works to destigmatize seeking mental healthcare in the area.
People with mental health and addiction issues often have more frequent appointments than is typically thought of in medical care. Transportation is critical to the continuity of care and therapists say the transportation empowers patients to get to both appointments and to pick up prescriptions.
“Access to transportation is particularly important for people with mental illness or addiction issues,” Mieseler says, “It promotes productive lifestyles, independence, and better treatment outcomes.”
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