The City of Joplin recently joined a growing number of Missouri businesses by becoming an awardee of the Missouri Silver Level Workplace Wellness Award. These employers proactively support employees who choose to make decisions to positively support their health. They provide wellness accommodations to help employees make the healthy choice the easy choice. Employers who provide these supports see a positive impact on their business’s bottom line.

Employers that provide wellness accommodations report higher employee retention, lower absenteeism and presenteeism, higher morale, greater productivity, a safer work environment, and reduced health care costs. Many studies have also shown improved employee job satisfaction.

“Worksite wellness programs are a growing trend in businesses today focusing on multiple dimensions of well-being as a means of improving quality of life for employees,” said Suzan Morang, Community Health Planner/Educator for the City of Joplin.

Topics covered in worksite wellness generally focus on chronic disease prevention, such as like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and target changes that make it easier to be physically active, eat healthy, and improve spiritual, emotional, and social wellbeing. Most adults spend at least 1/3 of their day at work, so it’s important there are healthy opportunities and choices in the workplace.

The Missouri Workplace Wellness Award is a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN) and the University of Missouri Extension. The program aims to bring an increased awareness about the importance of worksite wellness for employees. The program recognizes employers with policies supportive of employee health and wellness. Health-related policies are formal written statements that are designed to protect or promote employee health such as a tobacco free policy or policy allowing employees to engage in wellness activities on work time.

“We want our employees to know that we support their decision to make healthy choices,” said Morang. “We are extremely pleased to be designated as a Missouri Workplace Wellness Silver Level awardee.”

Missouri Workplace Wellness Award recipients represent a wide range of employment sectors, settings and worksite sizes. To receive the Missouri Workplace Wellness Award, an employer must submit an application to the University of Missouri Extension. Application materials can be found at A listing of recognized businesses is available on the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services website,

For more information on the Missouri Workplace Wellness Award program, visit the program’s website,

Lynn Onstot, Public Information Officer
City of Joplin
417-624-0820, ext. 1204

Going hungry is detrimental to anyone’s well-being, but this is especially true for students as food insecurity can create a ripple effect that impacts their education, and therefore, their future.  

Food insecurity is the inability to buy healthy, nutritious meals or the inability to buy food altogether. In Joplin Schools, an estimated 400 elementary students and 400 middle and high school students are considered food insecure.  

“They can’t be certain they’ll have access to adequate nutrition outside of a school building,” says Sarah Coyne, coordinator of Bright Futures Joplin. “While more than 60% of Joplin students qualify for free and reduced lunches, these students are living in more than just economic deprivation. Their hunger impacts every area of their lives.”  

Studies from Feeding America, the Food Research & Action Center, and Hunger in the Ozarks have shown that food-insecure students are more likely to:  

  • Have trouble concentrating in school 
  • Frequently miss class, repeat a grade, or drop out of school 
  • Exhibit behavioral issues 
  • Suffer from impaired development and motor skills 
  • Lag behind their peers in reading and math 
  • Face illness or chronic health conditions  

“We know that hungry students focus less on learning and more on their empty bellies,” explains Coyne.  

This knowledge fuels a major part of Bright Futures’ mission. In 2010, the nonprofit began leveraging community resources to aid students in need. Today, they have over 70 affiliates nationwide who provide students with basic essentials, including school supplies, hygiene products, beds, clothing, and especially meals.  

This need for food created the Bright Futures Joplin Snack Pack program, which distributes take-home bags each Friday. The program ensures that students have enough to eat over weekends and holiday breaks.  

“Many local families struggle through seasons of economic insecurity,” says Coyne. “Knowing how prevalent these troubles are, it’s vital that we invest in our younger generations so they can grow into the future leaders, workers, and parents of Joplin.”  

This necessary investment, and the impacts of hunger, are not limited to younger students. The College & University Food Bank Alliance estimates that one in five college students face some form of food insecurity, but this issue is often overlooked or forgotten.  

“The focus is often on food insecurity in K-12 students,” says Dr. Andrea Cullers, Director of the Lion Co-Op at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU).  

Cullers knows that the concerns for a food-insecure K-12 student’s well-being are essentially the same for a food-insecure college student.  

“The same issues of focus, chronic stress, and decreased ability to learn also occur in college students who are food insecure,” she explains.  

Around 23% of MSSU students have been food insecure at some point within the last year. These students cannot function properly without adequate nutrition, and Cullers says their academics suffer. This is where the Lion Co-Op aims to help.  

Since 2018, the Lion Co-Op has served as the on-campus food pantry for students, employees, and Lion Cub Academy families. They offer pre-packaged dry goods, microwavable meals, and fresh groceries like milk, eggs, and yogurt. There is even a selection of toiletries and hygiene products.  

Before COVID-19, Cullers says that they saw around 50 students each week. In 2020, when they had to switch to an online ordering system, that number dropped by half. At the start of this school year, they returned to their previous in-store model and are seeing more and more students.  

“This semester, we are excited to reopen as a ‘grocery store,’ and our numbers are already rebounding,” she explains. “[We are] seeing around 30 students a week.”  

As they continue to grow, the Co-Op is looking forward to expanding their outreach. Cullers says they’ve already added food scholarships to local farmers markets, SNAP benefits assistance, and a snack bag program for Lion Cub Academy. They hope to do even more in the future.  

Similarly, Bright Futures is excited to see what this school year brings as they continue to support students in the community.  

“We are continually impressed by and proud of Joplin’s generosity and care for students in need of a helping hand,” concludes Coyne.  

Want to be that helping hand? Learn more about how you can help Bright Futures Joplin here and how you can assist the Lion Co-Op here 

As the Joplin Family Y prepares to celebrate 130 years of serving our community, we take time to reflect on our beginnings and recognize the positive impact we have made in our community. On February 11, 1891, a small group of citizens gathered to start the Joplin Family YMCA. Within a month, rooms for this new organization were acquired above a bakery on Main Street. This group of community leaders were called to serve our community through the Y by putting Christian principles into action. That is what we have strived to do ever since.

The Y has faced many challenges over the years, and continues to be a resilient organization. The past 18 months have deeply tested this resilience with a global pandemic, economic crisis, social unrest, and racial injustice. Ys across the country rose to these challenges and stayed strong, just as we did here in Joplin.

We found new ways to serve our community during a time when we had to pause our traditional programming and services. We remained focused on our purpose of strengthening our community. Our Y staff and volunteers worked tirelessly through this time, providing safe spaces for our kids to learn, offering child care so our essential workers and frontline staff could have peace of mind, and we continued checking in on our vulnerable neighbors and friends. We know this community is strong and resilient. Over the past 130 years, we have been through so much together. Through economic downturns, major wars, health crises, and natural disasters, we stand together as a community. The Y has been and will continue to be here when our community is hurting. We are here to lift everyone up, to provide a sense of comfort and security, and to help lead us forward.

Over the past 130 years, our buildings may have changed, but our mission remains the same: “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”

Our cause has not wavered. We are here to strengthen the Joplin community through our focus areas of Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Each day, we work side-by-side to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and reach their highest potential.

We continue to build on all these experiences and innovations over the past 130 years. We are wiser and better because of them. We move forward together as a community, and we will continue to revitalize our Y for future generations. We are hopeful. We are resilient. We are the Y.


Submitted By:
Juan “Cookie” Estrada
CEO of the Joplin Family YMCA

A variety of health care organizations have come together to better understand the health status, behaviors and needs of the populations they serve. The Jasper and Newton Counties Community Health Collaborative, working with partners across the region, issued a Regional Health Assessment in 2019 to evaluate the health of our community and set a shared vision for action.

This group is now looking to update that assessment for 2022 and need your help.

Partners involved with this effort are asking for public feedback on local healthcare needs and experiences in the survey, which you can find here.

Questions are simple and are available in English and Spanish.

The group aims to use this systematic, data-driven assessment to inform decisions and guide efforts to improve community health and wellness.

Local Partners leading the work include Freeman Health System, Jasper County Health Department, Joplin Health Department, and Mercy Hospital Joplin.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been instrumental in the organization of the project.

The resulting Regional Health Assessment will allow decision-makers to have a more holistic and up-to-date picture with which to strategically address community health concerns.


Ryan Talken, Director
Joplin City Health Department

Tony Moehr, Administrator
Jasper County Health Department

This month’s update from Mercy Hospital Joplin includes:

  • Information on Pain Awareness Month in September
  • Spotlight on Mercy Clinics, featuring Mercy Clinic’s Pain Management
  • Onsite employer flu shot clinics
  • An update on COVID-19 vaccination boosters for immunocompromised individuals

September is Pain Awareness Month

Chronic pain from headaches, a back disorder, or other ailments don’t have to rule your life. If persistent pain interferes with your ability to be active, sleep, or enjoy time with family and friends, you can find help at Mercy.

We start by evaluating the source of your pain. Based on what we find, a team of experts will work together to develop a pain management plan that’s designed to meet your specific needs. As you go through your treatment program, we’ll keep your doctor in the loop about your progress.

Mercy’s specialists know how to help you manage chronic pain. We are experienced in treating conditions such as:

  • Post-surgical back pain
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Post-amputation pain
  • Shingles and its complications

At Mercy, you’ll find that effective pain management also means we provide compassionate care. We listen to and address all your concerns — body, mind, and spirit — so you can heal completely. The sooner you move past your pain, the sooner you can return to a normal, active life.

Mercy Spotlight Clinic: Mercy Clinic Pain Management

Here to help serve our patients.

Mercy Clinic Pain Management — Carthage
3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way
Carthage, MO 64836

Dr. Eugerie A. Hanley, M.D.
444 Four States Drive, Suite 1
Galena, KS 66739

Dr. Michael L. Hearndon, DO
444 Four States Drive, Suite 1A
Galena, KS 66739

There are proven strategies and technologies for dealing with pain. At Mercy Clinic Pain Management, we know how to help. Our experienced team of medical specialists have successfully treated patients by helping them learn how pain changes their brain, body, and their life.

Get Your Flu Shot — Not the Flu!

Let Mercy Pharmacy come to your employer site to administer flu shots to employees in late September and October. This is the last chance for onsite flu shots!

Mercy can file your health insurance plan, pharmacy plan, or employer-paid billing.

Contact Angela Kennedy at 417.529.8495 or for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Mercy is now administering COVID-19 booster vaccinations for immunocompromised patients. It must have been at least 28 days since initial two-dose series. Mercy is only giving Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at this time, so patients must have received Pfizer for the initial two-dose series.

Below are the CDC guidelines for the additional dose. Those that qualify can schedule online at or walk in the hospital clinic side, Wednesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Who needs an additional COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, the CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

People should talk to their health care provider about their medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time.

Mercy Directory

Need more information on Mercy divisions throughout southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas? See the Mercy directory here.


About Mercy: 

Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems for four consecutive years by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy is one of the nation’s most highly integrated, multi-state health care systems, including more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, convenient urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. Mercy has 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, more than 4,000 Mercy Clinic physicians and advanced practitioners and 40,000-plus co-workers serving patients and families across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy’s IT division, Mercy Technology Services, and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast.


Mercy Hospital Joplin

Freeman Health System has received the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines® — Stroke Quality Achievement Award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines. Find out more about Freeman and this award here