Freeman News

Ozark Center Among Agencies Participating in Federal Pilot Program

January 30, 2017

Program aims to improve access to behavioral and mental healthcare.

Missouri is one of eight states chosen to participate in a pilot program aimed at expanding mental health services. Announced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the two-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) pilot program is part of a comprehensive effort to integrate behavioral health with physical healthcare.

Ozark Center, an entity of Freeman Health System, is a member of the Missouri Coalition of Community Behavioral Healthcare and one of 19 agencies in Missouri participating in the program. CCBHCs will provide a comprehensive array of services, including crisis care, screening, treatment, prevention and wellness services for individuals with serious mental illnesses and addiction disorders. By establishing partnerships with a variety of health organizations, including primary care, CCBHCs will ensure individuals in Missouri will find a network of partners ready to work together to deliver high-value care in a more seamless system of integrated care.

“This program will have an impact on behavioral health services across the entire state,” said Mary Parrigon, Ozark Center Executive Director. “The project will establish quality and quantitative measures for behavioral health providers and assist in increasing access to care.”

The law that created the program, the Excellence in Mental Health Act, was introduced by U.S. senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in 2014 and was signed into law the following year.

“The Excellence in Mental Health Act will transform the way Missouri provides cutting-edge behavioral healthcare services to individuals suffering from serious, untreated mental, addictive and chronic physical health problems. We are honored to be selected as one of the eight demonstration states,” said Brent McGinty, Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Healthcare Chief Executive Officer. “We are incredibly thankful for Senator Roy Blunt’s leadership on this initiative and all of his efforts ensure individuals with mental illnesses and addictions have access to timely, high-quality care. He has worked tirelessly to preserve our nation’s behavioral health safety net, which supports some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

When fully implemented, the Excellence in Mental Health Act will significantly increase nationwide access to comprehensive community mental health and addiction treatment services and will be backed by congressional funding of more than $1 billion. Other states chosen to participate in the two-year pilot program include Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

About Ozark Center

An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Mo., Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit or call 417.347.7600.

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 2017, 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 ranked Freeman one of the top Hospitals in Southwest Missouri more than four years in a row, and the Leapfrog Group awarded Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2016 Hospital Patient Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular 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 or or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at