Freeman News

Nurses are at the Heart of Hospital Care

May 06, 2020

Freeman Celebrates Nearly 1200 Employees During Nurses Week

Joplin, Mo – Nursing is a calling. “I have always had a ‘helping’ nature,” says Freeman Health System registered nurse Ashely Sponsel. “My family is full of nurses. It has just always been my dream to be a nurse.”

Freeman night charge nurse Haley Degarmo says, “I became a nurse because I wanted to do something both challenging and rewarding and know that I can make a difference in people's lives every day.”

Attitudes like Sponsel’s and Degarmo’s are at the heart of hospital care and what we celebrate during Nurses Week, which begins Wednesday, May 6. This year’s theme is Compassion|Expertise|Trust.

“As a nurse, I need to have my patient's trust right off the bat, especially for them to get adequate care and heal,” says Sponsel. “This includes gaining the family's trust, as well. I do this by being cognizant of my body language and facial expressions. I try to put myself in their shoes.”

Like Sponsel, Degarmo says compassion is important as she helps families who are struggling.

“The toughest part of my job would have to be losing a patient who I've gotten to know and establish a relationship with,” Degarmo says. “We help patients through some of the most difficult times of their lives and experience some of their highs and lows with them. Sometimes it's up to us to stay strong for them and be their rock.”

Both nurses say a tough part of their job is not being able to help everyone. Sponsel is one of the nurses working in the COVID unit and knows her role is critical now.

“Safety is always our number one priority,” says Sponsel. “I can't take care of others if I am sick.” She adds nurses can’t do it by themselves and says teamwork is key.

“Without teamwork, the COVID unit would cease to operate as smoothly as it has been operating,” Sponsel explains. “Nurses, doctors and the respiratory therapists have all stepped in and assisted other nurses on this unit. I saw a few doctors get my patient from bed and assist them to the chair and set up their meal tray. I've seen respiratory therapy take a patient to the bathroom – no questions asked, no complaints. That's not even in their job description.”

Bearing in mind COVID-19, nursing leaders will deliver individual treats to nurses during special rounds from Wednesday, May 6, through Tuesday, May 12. Freeman has more than 1,000 registered nurses, 76 licensed practical nurses and 100 nurse practitioners, midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists to salute during Nurses Week.

Freeman Health System is also currently accepting nominations from employees for the Spirit of Nursing Award, which recognizes the love, courage and endurance nurses demonstrate. Those awards will be given at the 5th Annual Celebrating Freeman Nurses – A Red Carpet Affair on September 24, 2020




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