Freeman News

Freeman Among Nation’s Top Hospitals for Heart Attack Patient Care

July 20, 2021

American College of Cardiology NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Platinum Award Winner

Freeman Health System is one of only 212 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2020. The award recognizes Freeman’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients. Those standards are outlined by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Clinic guidelines and recommendations.

“It’s an impressive accomplishment,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer, “and reflects the dedication, commitment, and clinical excellence of our cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses, technicians, and the entire Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute team. It's gratifying to see their efforts recognized by the American College of Cardiology.”

“We are proud to reach the highest level of achievement on the Chest Pain – MI Registry,” said Dr. Robert Stauffer, Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute interventional cardiologist. “It reflects years of hard work by a lot of people. We have moved from Silver level past Gold to Platinum because of our high standards and focus on excellence, which exist at every level. There is a level of confidence and quality from check-in to check-out. It’s not just the doctors but top-rate performance in patient care from catheter lab staff, nurses, nurse practitioners and others.”

That confidence throughout the chain of emergency heart care was lifesaving for Southwest City Fire Chief Shane Clark. In early April, he felt pain in his arms as he settled down for bed. He then felt sick to his stomach. Clark realized he was having a heart attack and had his wife call for the Freeman ambulance in McDonald County. He met the ambulance at the Sarcoxie fire station.

“They put a (field electrocardiogram) lead on, and we knew it was a bad one,” said Clark. “Before the ambulance could transfer me to MedFlight, my heart stopped, and EMS crews shocked me with a defibrillator.”

That was just the first time Clark was brought back to life. MedFlight staff delivered electric shocks three more times in the helicopter which took him to the Freeman catheterization lab. There, Freeman interventional cardiologist Dr. Ryan Longnecker resuscitated Clark four more times stabilizing the patient and moving him to the operating room for open heart surgery with Dr. Jeffery Lee, Freeman cardiothoracic surgeon on Easter Sunday. Clark had experienced the deadliest type of heart attack – the ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI).

“In cases like mine, the patient doesn’t usually make it,” said Clark. “I ended up getting a quintuple bypass in what’s called a CABG or coronary artery bypass graft surgery. I know it’s important to tell people it is possible to survive.”

“The registry measures data from all patients – not just a sampling – and it shows our system as a whole is performing at a very high level for quality and safety and offering standardized care,” Dr. Stauffer said. “This is reflected in our outcomes, including much lower mortality rates. Patients can be comfortable knowing they’re going to get everything taken care of by exceptional people whose efforts add up to the best treatment.”

The Center for Disease Control estimates that almost 700,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling and cardiac rehabilitation, among others.

“As a Platinum Performance Award recipient, Freeman Health System has established itself as a leader in setting the national standard for improving quality of care in patients with acute myocardial infarction,” said Michael C. Kontos, MD, FACC, chair of the NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Steering Subcommittee, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. “By meeting the award requirements set forth in the registry, Freeman has demonstrated a commitment to providing reliable, comprehensive treatment for heart attack patients based on current clinical guideline recommendations.”

To receive the Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award, Freeman Health System has demonstrated sustained achievement in the Chest Pain  ̶   MI Registry for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020), and performed at the highest level for specific performance measures. Full participation in the registry engages hospitals in a robust quality improvement process using data to drive improvements in adherence to guideline recommendations and overall quality of care provided to heart attack patients.




The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit




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 2019, 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 2019. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 70 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