By Shaun Szkolnik, for the Tribune
TRUSSVILLE — There are few responsibilities more precious than being a parent. You are given a gift. A bundle of wonder that fits first in your hands, then in your arms, then in your lap and then out your door. You give them love, the benefit of your years, every part of your heart where the light may shine. But is it enough? Is it ever enough? You second guess yourself. You often consider your mistakes and there is little comfort in your triumphs because you don’t know if they will be your children’s triumphs. You stay awake at night wanting only to take whatever hurt the world will give them. To absorb it as your own as you shelter them; in your hands, in your arms, in your lap and then, at a distance. You are given another life to live for, but you are never given instructions on how to do that.
At Tots ‘N’ Teens Pediatrics, this is understood. Their mission is to assist parents with navigating the path that leads healthy children into being healthy adults. Part of that mission is treating illnesses. But there is so much more to it than just that.
Delinda Davis is one of the doctors at Tots ‘N’ Teens. She has been with the organization since 1987, and it is her passion to provide the best care for children. Sometimes that care occurs long before any illness does.
“All the doctors here did residency in pediatrics,” said Davis. “So, we were just taking care of children, basically, under the age of 18. There are an awful lot of illnesses that are specific to children and other illnesses that are specific to adults. A lot of what we do is not so much treating illness, but trying to promote good health, teach kids and families good habits that will keep them healthy throughout their lifetime, and also helping with parenting, helping with school issues. We feel like it is very important for new parents to have a place to get good information on how to take care of their children. We provide education for parents.”
Tots ‘N’ Teens is a place where this philosophy is allowed to flourish and fill out into its ultimate potential. A loving and nurturing spot where the bonds between patient and physician can be as close as family.
“We also provide an atmosphere where the parents and the children can get to know us and feel comfortable with us, as opposed to when your child is sick and you’re worried and upset going to a place you’re not familiar with and people you’re not familiar with,” said Davis. “When you’re coming to your pediatrician’s office, you’re seeing people you have seen for years and have grown comfortable with and know that we understand you and are trying to do our best to help you take care of your child.”
Given this ethic, it is no wonder that Tots ‘N’ Teens has become a generational community.
“We have a lot of patients that are second generation,” said Davis. “We took care of the parents and now we are taking care of the kids. We have patients from all over the place…We have a lot of folks where their families have been with us for years and for years and they follow us where ever we go. We love taking care of the kids over the long haul and then getting to take care of their kids.
“We get Christmas cards and pictures and they bring us school pictures and we’ve got folks that we get graduation cards and invitations. We hope that we do kind of become part of their family.”
It isn’t just the philosophy that allows for Tots ‘N’ Teens to provide great care to children and great guidance to their parents. There is a functional component to it, as well. Part of that function is maintaining a practice size that provides the greatest benefit to patients.
“We are a smaller practice and though not all of our doctors are here all day, five days a week, with us being a smaller practice, even if you don’t get to see your primary doctor when you’re sick, you see somebody that you know and are at least familiar with,” said Davis.
“You want to have your medical care where we can provide what we call ‘anticipatory guidance’ and to help you plan ahead and be healthy for the long haul rather than just treat illness,” she said.
Anticipatory Guidance is essentially a means of being proactive as opposed to being reactive. Tots ‘N’ Teens excels at this method, which allows for physicians to anticipate what kind of problems a parent might face with their child, or any questions a parent might have. This allows the staff at Tots ‘N’ Teens to provide information long before a problem may occur. It is the sort of maintenance that we apply to our homes, our cars, our careers. It is the kind of maintenance that works just as well, if not better, for our children.
There are no guarantees in life. The doors are not clearly marked. We do the best we can and hope it is all for the good. Sometimes the answers we seek to grant our children are the answers we must first find for ourselves; and for that, the doors to Tots ‘N’ Teens are open.