Freeman Health System Celebrates Nurses During National Nurses Week from May 6 to May 12

(Joplin, MO) – Nurses are Freeman Health System’s backbone, demonstrating empathy and compassion as they meet the healthcare needs of Freeman patients day in and day out.

Throughout the week of May 6 to May 12, 2024,, Freeman nurses were showered with praise and more than a few hugs from Freeman officials and the public alike during National Nurses Week.

“Nurses help patients through some of life’s most terrifying moments, and they do so with grace and compassion,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “They make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible, and they see the family has everything they need. The kindness demonstrated by nurses makes a difference that stays with people for a lifetime.”

May 12 also happens to be Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale, who elevated nursing into an honorable status during the 1800s, is the recognized founder of modern nursing.

“In celebrating Florence and the contributions she made to our field, we also celebrate the longstanding history of a profession rooted in trust, compassion and selflessness,” said Jeanee Kennedy, Chief Nursing Officer at Freeman. “Nurses always answer the call to serve and heal the communities in which they reside. We are blessed at Freeman to have an amazing team of nurses.”

In a symbolic gesture to remind nurses their hands deliver compassionate care at all times day and night, Freeman Chaplains Vanessa Harris, Darren Wallace, Gwen Morgan, and John McPhail conducted the sacred “Blessing of the Hands” ceremony. They blessed the nurses’ cupped hands with holy water and recited short prayers honoring the spiritual aspects found in physical care. It’s just one of the many way nurses were recognized and honored this week.

“There’s an old saying: ‘Nurse is just another word to describe a person strong enough to tolerate anything and soft enough to understand anyone,’” Baker said.

Nursing is often regarded as the most trusted and respected career a person can pursue. A Gallup Poll ranked nursing higher than any other profession when it comes to honesty and ethics for the 22nd year in a row. When Freeman first opened in Joplin, it had a staff of 19 nurses. Today, that number has grown to nearly 1,200.

“Our nurses love what they do,” Baker said. “They go out of their way to help others and they treat patients as if they were members of their own families. Freeman nurses act with courtesy, professionalism, and compassion.”

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


Kevin McClintock, Media Relations Coordinator
Freeman Health System

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