GIRARD — Girard Medical Center and Freeman Health Systems on Tuesday announced an affiliation in order to ensure greater access to quality healthcare.

Freeman and GMC have worked together in the past, and will now share resources to provide more services to patients in Girard and the surrounding area.

“Freeman sees this as a good opportunity for us to provide specialty care in Girard,” Freeman President and CEO Paula F. Baker said.

Baker said Freeman working with GMC is nothing new. GMC CEO Michael Payne became CEO around the same time Baker did.

“We feel like our values and mission have always been similar,” Baker said. “We have specialists in Girard already and now we will expand on our relationship and broaden it, make it formal.”

Along with Freeman providing more specialist care in Girard, the two health providers will share resources, develop and use standardized patient measures and process bundles, augment joint educational opportunities, and use common tools and techniques to address organizational culture and patient care.

The two hospitals hope to use the affiliation to identify areas of additional outreach specialties needed in and around Joplin and Girard. Both will engage in joint-planning to create improved access to different types of care, improve the quality of care and build stronger provider-staff relationships.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.