Freeman News

Freeman Announces New Chief Medical Officer

September 30, 2021

Surgeon and Medical Staff President Dr. David Baker Gets Promotion

JOPLIN, Mo. – Freeman Health System named a new chief medical officer (CMO) in David Baker, DO. Dr. Baker currently serves as President of Freeman Medical Staff, is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery and specializes in general and bariatric surgery.

“Dr. David Baker’s vast understanding of healthcare and his tremendous skill in developing relationships with colleagues are attributes that will serve us well as he assumes the role of Chief Medical Officer at Freeman,” said Paula F. Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “An exceptional and personable physician and surgeon, Dr. Baker also has an innate capacity for leadership. This is a critical time as we continue to deal with the pandemic and its associated challenges, and we’re excited about everything Dr. Baker brings to the table.”

Dr. Baker joined Freeman as a surgeon in 2009 and works with Freeman General and Vascular Surgical Group. A native of the area, he was born at Freeman, graduated from Galena High School and received his undergraduate degree from Pittsburg State University. He attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri, did an internship at Freeman, then residency at Doctors Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and fellowship at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“I want to be an approachable leader who builds trust and facilitates a strong collaboration between clinical and non-clinical departments,” said Dr. Baker, “so that we can all further the Freeman mission to our maximum potential.” 

The Freeman CMO provides oversight and direction of the medical care provided by Freeman and also provides leadership to the Freeman medical staff and Medical Staff Governance. The chief medical officer works to ensure that Freeman has a high-performing medical staff with engaged and loyal physicians. As a member of the Senior Executive leadership team, the CMO is responsible for providing necessary healthcare information to enable informed decision making.

Dr. Baker steps into the CMO role previously held by Dr. Dennis Estep, who will assume the pivotal role of Medical Director at Freeman OccuMed which coordinates healthcare for area companies and industries. Dr. Estep has more than 25 years of experience working with business leaders and will continue to lead in an area with opportunity for growth.

“A proven leader with steadfast resolve, Dr. Dennis Estep has played a crucial role in guiding us through this pandemic and helping us protect the communities we serve,” said Baker. “He never wavered as he led our medical staff through extraordinarily difficult times, and we truly appreciate all he has accomplished. I’m thrilled Freeman will continue to benefit from Dr. Estep’s expertise and determination as he resumes his position at the helm of Freeman OccuMed, the occupational health program he helped establish at Freeman many years ago. I genuinely enjoy working alongside Dr. Estep and look forward to our future successes.”

Dr. Baker assumes the role of CMO on October 1, 2021.





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