Ozark Center CAO Appointed to State Autism Commission

New Data Suggests 1 in 44 U.S. Children Affected by Autism

(Joplin, MO) – New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 1 in 44 American eight-year-olds have been diagnosed with autism. Ozark Center, an entity of Freeman Health System, has long been a leader in autism services for our community, and now Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer Vicky Mieseler is being appointed to the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“I am personally honored to be chosen as a member of the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders,” said Mieseler. “I served on previous state level committees that made initial efforts to bring services to Missouri’s autism community, and I look forward to bringing part of the solution, especially in southwest Missouri.”

This autism commission is charged with reviewing existing resources, initiatives, and funding; identifying unmet needs or gaps in service or service areas; and creating tangible recommendations for system improvements, including policy, programmatic, legislative and funding recommendations. The commission was formed in 2008 to advise and make recommendations to the governor and state agencies on matters relating to autism spectrum disorder, including healthcare, education, and other adult and adolescent services.

“Missouri has a strong history of advocacy on behalf of persons with autism,” said Mieseler. “The re-engagement of this commission is another example of the state’s willingness to improve the lives of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders.”

Mieseler is a nationally certified and licensed psychologist with over 30 years of experience in behavioral health. Now, Mieseler’s contributions on the state autism commission will help form the Autism Roadmap for Missouri, which will discuss best practices for care and services within healthcare, education, vocational support and community resources, and highlight opportunities for improvement.

“I am looking forward to bringing a new perspective to the mission of the commission by offering my years of experience in the field of autism and helping create an Autism Roadmap for Missouri that encompasses services across the lifespan of people living with an autism spectrum disorder,” said Mieseler. “It will be especially important to provide service experiences from a rural community.”

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.

About Ozark Center: 

Ozark Center is based in Joplin, Missouri and has been an entity of Freeman Health System since 1996. It has been providing comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults and families since 1965 in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from the Four States. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the behavioral health needs of the community and promote awareness of behavioral health issues in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.


Lisa Olliges, Marketing & Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System

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