Bernard Bettasso

Bernard Bettasso

Internal Medicine

Freeman Southwest Internal Medicine

3202 McIntosh Circle

Suite 201

Joplin, Missouri 64804

Freeman Physician
Accepting Patients
Accepting Patients

Medical Education

Medical SchoolUniversity of Illinois
ResidencySt. Louis School of Medicine
Internship: St. Louis University Hospital


Board Certifications

American Board of Emergency Medicine: Internal Medicine


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    Where I Give Care

    Southwest Internal Medicine

    See Location Details

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    Why Early Detection Screenings Are So Vital

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    “I feel healthy, so do I really need to get screened?” This is a question we may be tempted to ask. However, even when we’re feeling our best, health screenings are vital because they bring to light conditions or diseases we may have even if we’re not currently showing symptoms.

    In most cases, the earlier a problem is detected, the more effective the treatment will be. Health screenings also give us a baseline of our current health, which can be helpful for comparison in future settings. 

    Early Detection Screenings are more in-depth screenings. They include:

    Stroke Screening/Carotid Artery

    Plaque buildup is an abnormal collection of calcium and cholesterol on the artery walls. Blocked carotid arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain or break off and become lodged in a blood vessel, resulting in a stroke. Through ultrasound technology, carotid arteries are scanned along each side of the neck to detect narrowing or blockages. Early detection will allow you to take an appropriate course of action that may reduce future risk of stroke or other health concerns. 

    Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

    An abdominal aortic aneurism – a ballooning of the wall in the abdominal aorta – is most often caused by plaque buildup. Noticeable symptoms of an AAA are uncommon, and you may never know you have it. Early detection can increase your survival rate by 50% or more compared to emergency treatment after a ruptured aneurysm.

    Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Screening

    Peripheral arterial disease mainly affects the arteries located in arms, legs, and feet. When fatty deposits build up in the inner linings of the artery walls, blood flow is restricted. PAD often goes undiagnosed until painful symptoms start. Early detection could also help prevent future heart attack and stroke.

    Osteoporosis Risk Assessment

    Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Men and women 55 years and older are at greater risk for osteoporosis, but it can occur at any age. Poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to an osteoporosis diagnosis. Early detection allows a physician to start appropriate treatment.

    Although you might feel fine, it is a good idea to check your numbers.  This includes blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and weight.  Also having a few in-depth screenings can give you even more information about your health and receive treatment right away if needed. Screenings are a simple way to check your health.

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    Why Preventive Screenings are Important

    As children, we visited the doctor for our yearly wellness exams to check on our growth and developmental milestones, vital signs and eating and exercise habits.

    But as adults, we barely have time to go the doctor when we’re sick, let alone when we’re healthy. Although yearly preventive screenings are often put on the back burner, they can make a big difference for your health.

    Freeman Screen Team reaches out to area residents to provide prevention and detection for healthier communities. By bringing low-cost health screenings to various locations in the region, Freeman Screen Team helps people who otherwise might not seek medical services.

    Those 18 years old and older should get baseline numbers from screenings whether they feel like something is wrong or not. It’s good to have a baseline number, that way when something does occur, you know where you started from. For instance, if you’re 18 and you have high cholesterol but don’t know that, it could be twice as bad when we go to draw blood when you’re 30.

    At health screenings, Screen Team checks cholesterol, blood pressure, body composition and bone density. Screen Team partners with local business by offering health and early detection screenings for their employees. They also offer monthly screenings by appointment at the Screen Team Resource Center, 1130 E. 32nd, Suite C, Joplin.

    The early detection screenings offered can make a lifesaving difference. Early detection screenings enable patients to catch diseases early and take proactive measures to treat the disease. Screen Team offers stroke/carotid artery, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings and osteoporosis risk assessment.

    One of the most popular screenings is the carotid artery screening. People want to know if they have any blockage in their carotid artery because they know it can result in a stroke. Another popular screening is the aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA) screening. If you have AAA and don’t know it, and it leaks, it can be deadly within minutes. Some patients who have AAA that isn’t severe enough for surgery visit Screen Team several times a year to monitor it and see if it’s grown.

    If something is detected during a screening, the patient is referred to a physician for a more in-depth assessment. 

    To schedule an appointment with Screen Team, call 417.347.6555. If your business would like to partner with Screen Team, call 417.347.5646.

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    Aug 26, 2022

    Should You Take Supplemental Vitamins?

    Did you know the food you eat contains vital nutrients for your body to work properly?

    Vitamins and nutrients found in food are responsible for carrying out hundreds of bodily functions, from creating red blood cells to sending nerve impulses and from creating the energy you need to carry out your daily activities to supporting healthy bone and hair growth. So, if vitamins are found in food, is it necessary for people to take a supplemental vitamin?

    For most people, taking supplemental vitamins is unnecessary, as we obtain the essentials through a balanced diet. If your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and healthy fats, you should be receiving the right amount of nutrients your body needs. The main purpose of a supplemental vitamin is to fill in the nutritional gaps when it is not met through your diet. 

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate food supplements to assure safety and efficacy, so there can be a lot of variety in quality. Adopting a balanced diet is the best way to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs.

    There are instances in which taking supplemental vitamins are encouraged. Most of the time, this is when there is evidence that you are deficient in a particular vitamin, such as D or B12. Vitamins and minerals have many different jobs within our body, so a deficiency in any of them could cause an array of symptoms. 

    There are also conditions that can put you at higher risk to have vitamin deficiencies, such as bariatric surgery, certain bowel conditions, restrictive diets and more. People who are attempting to get pregnant or who are pregnant also have higher vitamin and mineral needs, which is why prenatal vitamins are recommended. 

    Remember to always inform your healthcare provider of any supplements you are taking, as some can potentially interfere with lab testing and prescribed medications. If you are unsure if you should take a vitamin supplement, consult with your healthcare provider.

    If you don’t have a healthcare provider, the Freeman Physician Finder Specialist can assist you in locating Freeman physicians and services, provide information about physicians who are currently accepting patients and refer you to specialists’ offices. Call 417.347.3767 or 800.297.3337.

    About the Author
    Brittany Winkfield, DO, is an internal medicine physician at Freeman Southwest Internal Medicine. She earned her medical degree from A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed her residency at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri.

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    Jun 27, 2022

    Beat the Heat and Health Risks With Summer Safety

    Learn ways to stay healthy this summer

    By Natasha Kataria, MD

    As summer begins, most people are ready to step outside and enjoy some outdoor fun! And we need to keep in mind, some summer activities bring additional risks to your health. With soaring temps and harsh sunlight, even leisurely activities come with hidden dangers. Stay safe this summer with some simple summer health precautions. 

    Stay Hydrated
    Dehydration can happen quickly in the summer heat. Stay hydrated throughout the day by steadily drinking water and not waiting until you're thirsty. Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, which cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps. Try fresh foods with high water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, celery and lettuce.
    Symptoms of dehydration can differ depending on your age. A young child or infant who’s dehydrated won’t shed tears while crying and may have sunken eyes or a dry mouth. Dehydrated adults may feel fatigued and thirsty. Dizziness and confusion are also possible symptoms. Dark-colored urine is a common sign you’re not drinking enough water. Be sure to take frequent water breaks during summer activities.

    Avoid Extreme Heat
    Heat exhaustion comes with many unpleasant symptoms, including increased pulse, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea and headache and can lead to heatstroke. 

    When overheating does occur, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four stages of heat-related illness: heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition when the body’s temperature rises. Much like a fever, extremely high body temperatures can lead to permanent damage. Signs of heat stroke include confusion, rapid breathing, no sweating and a fast pulse. Without care, heatstroke can cause damage to vital organs and muscles and can even be fatal. If you notice the symptoms of heat exhaustion, seek cool shelter and refrain from physical activities so you can rest and hydrate.

    You should also take the following precautions on sweltering days to reduce your risk of heat-related illnesses:

    • Know your risk level. Children, older adults and people with chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy people can be affected if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
    • Reserve outdoor physical activities for mornings or evenings, when the weather is coolest. Avoid high-intensity activities during midday.
    • Wear flowy, lightweight clothes instead of tight and heavy outfits that hold in heat.

    Prevent Food Poisoning 
    The CDC estimates 48 million people suffer from food poisoning each year in the U.S. Summertime is picnic time, and picnics bring food outdoors where it can stay warm too long. Certain foods, including meat and dairy products, if left unrefrigerated for too long, will be unsafe to eat due to bacterial growth.

    Use the following tips to steer clear of food poisoning:

    • Get rid of perishable food left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.
    • Pack perishable food in a cooler along with ice.
    • Use a meat thermometer to ensure any grilled meat is at a safe temperature.

    If you do develop a case of food poisoning, you’ll likely have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Drink clear fluids to avoid dehydration. Slowly begin eating bland food, such as toast, as you start to feel better. 

    Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy the season with your loved ones. A little bit of careful prevention and awareness can keep your summer safe!

    About the Author
    Natasha Kataria, MD, specializes in Internal Medicine. She earned her medical degree from the Government Medical College, Amritsar, Punjab, India and completed her residency at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri.

    Freeman Primary Care at Webb City Neighborhood Care offers care for patients age 18 and older. We specialize in high-quality care personal health care giving patients a place to bring their health concerns, prevent disease and find health problems early. Call our office at 417.347.4967 for an appointment.

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    Jun 06, 2018

    The Nursing Education Fund – How You Can Give

    The Nursing Education Fund – How You Can Give

    Having highly trained and educated nurses is a priority at Freeman Health System. The Nursing Education Fund is available to eligible Freeman nurses who want to further their nursing education. Money from the fund can be used for advancing a degree, a specialty certification (which can help an RN achieve a higher level in TAPP), healthcare projects or conferences that may be too expensive to attend without assistance. 

    In 2017, I received funds to assist with my pursuit of a Master's Degree in Nursing – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. I used the funds to help pay for tuition and reduce the amount of student loans I needed – and I could use the funds as I saw fit. 

    Donating to the fund helps promote the profession of nursing. Nursing has developed from a technical trade to a body of science that is based in research, theory and the art of healing. Nurses are a vital piece in the healthcare system, providing quality, safe care with skills in bedside care, informatics, quality improvement, administration, education and community health services –  just to name a few. For the profession to grow, we as nurses need to invest in ourselves, and the Nursing Education Fund helps us do that. We hope you consider making a contribution today.

    To learn more about giving options, visit

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    The Importance of Keeping a Health History & What to Include

    Keeping a personal health history is important. Not only can it save you time and money by avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, it could also save your life.

    Keeping a personal health history is important. Not only can it save you time and money by avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, it could also save your life.

    Keep a card or sheet of paper in your purse or wallet with the following information:

    Past medical history: Include all diagnoses that you've received from a medical provider such as high blood pressure or thyroid problems. Also include any history of stroke and record of childbirth. No problem is too minor – for example, knowing that you have dental decay is important because cavities can increase risk of heart disease.

    Past surgical history: Include minor procedures such as cataract removal and colonoscopy/endoscopy as well as major procedures such as hysterectomy, cardiac stents and gallbladder and appendix removal. By knowing what has been done, you can help avoid unnecessary tests such as a gallbladder ultrasound for abdominal pain when you've already had your gallbladder removed.

    Family history: Include important things such as diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, cancer and thyroid disorder. Also include inherited diseases such as muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis because these can give doctors clues to diagnoses that are not initially considered.

    Prevention services: Include dates and results of last Pap test, mammogram, PSA, colonoscopy and bone density testing. This can also help you avoid redundant testing and enhance prevention of life-threatening diseases.

    Medication allergies and intolerances: Include a list of medications that you cannot tolerate and be sure to list the reason why you cannot take each medicine. In some cases, the drug "allergy" may actually be an intolerance, and knowing this could save your life if a certain medicine is needed to treat a disease, such as a drug-resistant bacterial infection.

    Current medications: Include dose and frequency, reason for taking medicine, how long you have taken the medicine (months and years), name of the prescribing physician and your pharmacy name and phone number.

    Contact numbers: Include the name and phone number of your emergency contact person, the person who has your power of attorney, and primary care physician. If applicable, be sure to include your advance medical directives, which may include instructions such as "do not resuscitate" or "do not intubate."

    Having this information available makes check-in easy with each and every doctor visit. Additionally, having it accessible in your wallet or purse could save your life in an emergency situation. If you need help composing your health history, ask your family doctor for help; he or she should be able to provide you with needed information.

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