Erin Adams is not a confectioner, but she loves to give out lollypops (compliments of Ricky’s Chocolate Box), to kids after they get a shot. Those big eyes and a smile are her reward for knowing she’s helping to take care of kids as a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who sees patients at Southwest Medical Associates in Hermann (Tuesdays and Fridays) and Associated Medical Arts in Montgomery City (Mondays).
She’s a Rhinelander who comes from a family tree ripe with the fruits of the medical arts. Her grandpa was Hermann physician and civic leader Dr. George Workman, whose wife, Julie, was a nurse. Many of her family members are in health care fields, such as her brother Dr. Nathan Hartman DDS, with a practice in Hermann. Older brother Curtis, is an orthopedic surgeon in Omaha, Neb.
“For a long time, I knew I wanted to be a nurse and work with kids,” she shared. “I also knew we needed pediatrics in Hermann. I thought, ‘I love this area, so why not do something like that here?’”
She’s tenacious as well, speaking to Ellen Schaumberg, director of clinical operations at Hermann Area District Hospital (HADH), for a decade, about the need for pediatrics in Gasconade County.
“We can provide the same care that you would get at a pediatric office,” she says. “We do the typical well-visits, starting with the newly born. In the first three to five days when they come home, we want to see them in the office.”
She says this is a critical time for newborns and wants to know the infant is eating well and gaining weight. She should know, since she is a mother as well.
“I’ve learned a whole lot in school and practice, but also because of the trial and error experiences I’ve had with my own three children,” she shared. “It’s been three very different experiences.”
Nurse Adams also says successive well-visits are good reminders to obtain important vaccinations (at two months). She says the vaccinations are timed with the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP).
“In all these visits, we’re doing anticipatory guidance, talking about safety and what they’re eating—as well as finding out how you’re coping, how’s the family coping?” she explains. “What’s the family dynamic? Is the baby fussy at night and how are you handling that?”
She has been in practice 10 years and in that time, she says things have become a more family - centered focus.
“It’s not just about the baby [anymore],” she notes. “We’re making sure mom’s doing well—and dad. If that’s not working, nothing works, right?”
She says there is a four-month checkup to get immunizations, six-month, nine-month, twelve-month, 15-month, 18-month and the two-year checkup.
“Recently in the last few years, it is recommended to get a two-and-a-half-year checkup,” she said. [Researchers] found growth velocities were slowing among other things, that could be caught with the two-and-a-half [year visit].
Nurse Adams says many facets of child development are observed besides physical development, such as a baby’s communication skills i.e. do they have a social smile, are they making eye contact and are they “cooing?”
She’s focused on not only well-visits, but also establishing the process where a mother can take a sick child to Southwest Clinic/Hermann Area District Hospital instead of having to drive an hour or an hour-and-a-half to the St. Louis area.
“We’re providing for the needs of this community trying to fill the [pediatric health care] gaps and I think we do it fairly well,” she says.
“We’re here,” she says succinctly. “If your kids are sick in the morning, call us because we have same-day sick appointments. The nurses are always here and if I’m not, I’m always available to talk over the phone.”
She expects her schedule to get busy fairly soon.
“At the end of summer, things start picking up,” she explains. “We’ve started school and kids will start to share germs again and sick visits will pick up.
Nurse Adams’ office is the same office her grandpa occupied when he was in practice. It’s comfortable with a window that probably serves as a nice distraction to the outside world every now and then. She remembers when Dr. Workman used to practice his golf putting game on an open stretch of carpeting near his desk. While she may not practice putting in her office, she feels the warmth of those memories as she carries on a family tradition of caring for Gasconade County area residents.
Nurse Adams and her staff will schedule sick visits, well-child care, sports physicals, vaccinations, immunizations and newborn care.
“To bring pediatric care to Hermann has been my dream. “It’s huge for me to take on what my grandpa started—it’s super exciting and I love it. It makes me proud.”