Freeman Earns Missouri Platinum Level Workplace Wellness Award

Joplin, Mo – Freeman Health System is a proud recipient of the Missouri Platinum Level Workplace Wellness Award for its worksite wellness program designed to improve quality of life for employees.

“It’s an honor to earn this distinction,” said Freeman Wellness Coordinator Kris Drake, RN, CHPD. Our Freeman WellBalance program inspires total well-being by creating opportunities and encouraging our employees to improve and maintain their quality of life.”

“We’re proud of our WellBalance team for helping our staff become the best they can be,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “Through this voluntary wellness program, our employees find opportunities for both education and physical activities, like walking, running and yoga.”

Freeman takes a holistic approach to the health of employees, giving them the tools they need to achieve their wellness goals.

“We provide incentives for getting regular health screenings and visiting primary care doctors, specialists and dentists,” Baker added. “WellBalance also includes a mindfulness program that helps with stress management and an app called myStrenth for personalized support for mental wellness. Without a dedicated and healthy staff, Freeman wouldn’t be able to take care of the communities we serve, and we’re grateful for this recognition from MOCAN.”

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

“I believe self-care is very important, especially now given the pandemic and the world in which we currently live,” said Rhonda Bitticks, Freeman Patient Accounts Support Coordinator. “I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that created a program to assist its employees on their wellness journey.” Bitticks has been part of the WellBalance program since it was first offered and now even acts as wellness champion, one of 120 staff system-wide who share wellness opportunities and encourage other employees to take part.

“The WellBalance program has helped me to be more productive and boosted my self-confidence and self-esteem,” said Bitticks. “I’ve made some great friendships through this program, and I am very grateful that Freeman offers this program for its employees.”

Topics covered in worksite wellness generally focus on chronic disease prevention (like heart disease, diabetes and 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.

“One of my goals is to be more active,” said Bitticks. “I’ve utilized the Wellness Dashboard a lot to help with this goal. The dashboard offers different types of exercise videos, walking maps, hiking tips, stretches and exercises you can do at your desk to help increase activity. Logging my activity each week on the Strides physical activity tracker helps me measure my progress and stay motivated.”

Freeman’s program includes subscriptions to online self-help tutorials on activities including meditation and mindfulness, healthy eating and fitness strategies. The program also offers an insurance premium discount for employees who earn the required wellness points.

“The insurance premium discount we get each pay period is pretty awesome!” said Bitticks. But it is not the primary reason she participates.

“Another one of my goals is being my mindful in what I do. I really believe in the CALM campaign that Freeman has. I use the Breathe© technique daily to do a self-check-in, just to see how I am feeling in the moment. I use this technique if I am feeling anxious or frustrated, and I find that it really allows me to center myself. I’ve participated in several of the mindfulness retreats that Freeman has sponsored, and I am an active participant in the Yin Yoga classes.”

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.

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


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 2020-2021. 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