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Infectious Diseases


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Any infection, big or small, can potentially cause serious health issues. Freeman offers infectious disease services to treat a variety of contagious conditions. Our infectious disease specialist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. He is a physician with additional years of training in how the body fights infection, how infection spreads and infection control. Infectious disease specialists treat all kinds of infections, including those involving bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Their special training gives them insight into the use of drugs used to treat infectious diseases and their side effects.

Freeman Infectious Disease can treat a variety of infections, including:

  • Postoperative infections
  • Wound infections
  • Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites
  • Infections of the respiratory tract (sinus infections, bronchitis or pneumonia)
  • Infections of bones and joints
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Infections of the heart valve
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Tuberculosis
  • West Nile virus
  • Leprosy

To help with your condition, the process is simple:

  1. See your primary care physician first about the infection.
  2. If it is a chronic infection, your doctor will refer you to our infectious disease specialist.
  3. You'll be scheduled for a 1-hour appointment to diagnose your infection and evaluate about your symptoms.
  4. We'll schedule a 30-minute follow-up appointment to address your condition and treatment options in greater detail.


Clinic hours:  Every other Friday 8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Learn More About Infectious Diseases


Infectious Diseases


COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, that has only spread in people since December 2019.

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Hepatitis C

Infectious Diseases

Hepatitis C

Many individuals have hepatitis C and don’t know it because it takes years to cause damage to the liver and make someone sick.

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Where are we Located?

3333 McIntosh Circle, Suite 6

Joplin, MO

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Providers at this Location

Uwe A. Schmidt, MD

Infectious Diseases

Uwe A. Schmidt, MD


Meet Dr. Schmidt

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Importance of the Flu Vaccine

As temperatures drop, area physicians are preparing for patient visits to rise.

Flu season is right around the corner. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness, and while everyone is at risk for contracting the flu, some people, are at a higher risk of serious flu complications. This group includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years old.

So why get the flu vaccine? Receiving the annual flu vaccine has many benefits. The vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illness and the risk of serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Additionally, the flu vaccine is an important preventative tool for the population who are at a high risk. The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so they will not cause illness.

Because COVID is a relatively new illness, we have little information about how flu illness might affect a person’s risk for getting COVID. We do know that people can be infected with flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time. Getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against flu and its potentially serious complications, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection against COVID-19.

Precautions taken during last year’s flu season including masking and social distancing attribute to the steep decline in flu cases for the 2020 – 2021 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is anticipating a marked increase of flu cases for the 2021 – 2022 flu season due to relaxed precautions. The CDC is strongly urging any qualifying individual to receive the flu vaccine by the end of October 2021. This allows a person’s body enough time to build up an immune response for the length of the flu season.

Contact your primary care provider for any questions about the flu vaccine or to schedule your flu vaccine. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Physician Finder Line at 417.347.3767 to find the best provider for you.


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For You and Your Family – Why You Should Get the Flu Vaccine

While the flu shot is not the end-all-be-all of preventing the flu, it helps considerably.

As we move out of summer and into fall we begin to see the weather cool, leaves turn and trash cans fill with tissues. Flu season is here, and while thoroughly washing your hands, using hand sanitizers and avoiding large crowds can help you avoid getting the flu, the best way to stay healthy is to get an annual flu shot.

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Getting a flu vaccination goes beyond just protecting yourself. Getting vaccinated benefits your family, your friends and even the community. With more and more people receiving the vaccination, the threat of contracting influenza for those who who cannot receive the vaccine – due to an allergic reaction, age or personal reasons – is greatly reduced.

Many doctors’ offices have the flu vaccinations readily available. However, if you don’t have a regular family physician, you can receive the vaccine at health clinics, pharmacies, urgent care clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities. Some employers even offer the flu shot in the workplace.

Missed time from work and school, plans being cancelled and time spent laying around at home while you recover from the flu can be avoided with the help of the flu vaccine. Avoid the misery of getting the flu by getting your flu shot this year.

About the author

Dennis A. Estep, DO, is the Chief Medical Officer at Freeman Health System. Dr. Estep served as the Freeman OccuMed Medical Director for more than 23 years before taking over in his current position at the beginning of 2018. Dr. Estep is board-certified in Occupational Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine and was named a Fellow by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


[1]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, September 06). Influenza (Flu). Retrieved from

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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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Get the facts, not the flu!

As flu season approaches, a lot of information begins to circulate about the flu vaccine.

As flu season approaches, a lot of information begins to circulate about the flu vaccine. Some information may be true but some may not. Get your facts straight about the flu vaccine so you can protect yourself, your loved ones and those around you.

Myth: Flu vaccines cause people to become sick with the flu.

While some people may experience mild aches or soreness from the vaccine, the vaccine itself does not cause the flu. Mild aches are much more manageable than the flu, which can take you away from work or school for several days.

Fact: High-risk groups should get the flu vaccine, but they are not the only ones. Everyone should receive a flu shot.

Doctors highly recommend the flu vaccine to high-risk groups, including children 6 months and older, adults over 65, pregnant women and those with chronic illness. However, it is important for everyone to receive the flu vaccine to decrease the spread of disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season. It is also important for those who work with others in close proximity to receive a flu shot – this includes healthcare professionals (clinical and non-clinical), teachers, airport staff, etc. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is through flu vaccination.  

Myth: Flu vaccines do not work to prevent the flu.

It is true that some vaccine components are less protective against some flu strands than others. The effectiveness varies year to year, but overall the risk of getting the flu is much lower if you are vaccinated than if you are not.

Fact: Flu vaccine must be repeated every year.

The flu vaccine lasts for months, but it does not last year to year. It is important to receive a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and those around you.

Myth: Flu vaccines often cause neurological problems.

Neurological problems associated with the flu vaccine are extremely rare. In fact, the risk of contracting neurological problems from the actual flu is higher than getting it from the vaccine.

Fact: The nasal flu spray vaccine is no longer recommended or used.

The CDC no longer provides nasal flu spray vaccine because of its low effectiveness. The most effective vaccine is the injectable flu shot, which protects against four different types of flu strands.

The fact is: the key to flu prevention is receiving the flu vaccine. Other everyday preventive actions include covering you coughs and sneezes, frequent hand-washing and avoiding those who are sick. If you begin to develop flu symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea, contact your doctor immediately. To stay up-to-date on all things flu, visit

About the Author

Jeffrey Grills, MD, serves as Freeman Health System Vice President of Medical Affairs. Dr. Grills received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, and completed his residency in pediatrics at Indiana University Hospitals, Indianapolis, Indiana. Board-certified in pediatrics, Dr. Grills practiced for more than 18 years with Freeman Children’s Clinic. He has served as VP of Medical Affairs since 2015.

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Prevent the Flu

Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick, and, if you do get sick, it can make your illness milder.

Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick, and, if you do get sick, it can make your illness milder. Getting vaccinated isn’t just about protecting yourself – when you are vaccinated, you are also protecting the people around you who may be more vulnerable to serious flu illness than you are, such as older adults, people with chronic health conditions and young children (especially infants younger than 6 months old who are too young to get vaccinated). Taking steps to prevent the spread of flu helps ensure that you and your loved ones may enjoy a happy and healthy winter season.

What do we need to know about this year's flu season?
First, know the steps that you can take to prevent the spread of flu! Second, know that the timing of flu is unpredictable. It strikes at different times each season, and it may not hit every region of the country at the same time. Typically, most activity occurs between October and May, with a peak between December and February. Best practice is to prevent the spread of germs all year long.

Third, know that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick. Symptoms usually start between one and four days after the virus has entered the body, but most healthy adults can infect other people starting a day before any symptoms develop. Some infected people experience no symptoms at all, but they are still able to spread the virus to others. After becoming sick, adults may be contagious for up to seven days (while children may be contagious for even longer). This is one reason vaccination is so important!

Who should get a flu shot?
It’s recommended that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccination, with rare exceptions. Children under 6 months of age are too young for a flu shot. The shot is also generally not appropriate for people with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine (such as gelatin or antibiotics).

What about people with egg allergies? Should they get vaccinated against flu?
Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg. People who have ever had a severe allergic reaction to eggs generally have two options. Those over the age of 18 may get recombinant flu vaccine, which is 100% egg-free, or they can get the regular flu shot, but have it administered by a medical doctor with experience in managing severe allergic conditions.

People who have had a mild reaction to egg – that is, one which only involved hives – may get a flu shot with additional safety measures. Recombinant flu vaccines are an option for these individuals as well if they are 18 years or older and they do not have any contraindications to that vaccine.

As always, tell your doctor or healthcare professional about any of your allergic reactions.

Who is most susceptible to the flu?
People with the highest risk of complication from influenza are those with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, HIV, AIDS or cancer; those who have experienced a stroke; those who are pregnant; those who are over 65 years old; and those who are under 5 years old (especially those under 2 years old).

Does it matter if a patient gets the shot or the mist?
The flu shot and the mist protect against the flu. However, the mist is not approved for all people, including those who are younger than 2 or older than 50. Other people who cannot get the spray include:

  • People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
  • People who are allergic to eggs
  • Children 2 years through 17 years of age who are receiving aspirin therapy or aspirin-containing therapy.
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems (immunosuppression)
  • Children 2 years through 4 years who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months
  • People who have taken influenza antiviral drugs within the previous 48 hours
  • People who care for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protective environment (or otherwise avoid contact with those persons for 7 days after getting the nasal spray vaccine)

Talk to your doctor if you have asthma; chronic conditions like lung or heart disease; kidney, liver, neurologic/neuromuscular or metabolic disorders or Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

What steps can we take to prevent the spread of the flu?
To help stop the spread of germs:

  • Get your flu shot
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Also, remember to practice other good health habits: clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill; get plenty of sleep; be physically active; manage your stress; drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

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