Local Doctor Treats Low-Income and Homeless, Wins National Award

WASHINGTON -- After raising eight children, Springfield's Doctor Patricia Derges headed to medical school in her fifties.

After gaining her medical degree she used it where it mattered most and opened a clinic treating the low-income and homeless of Springfield.

It was an outreach effort that gained national attention and won her an award she didn't even know she was nominated for.

Noise and chaos aren't guests to our nations capital - they're more like permanent residents.

But there's something very hush hush happening in this ballroom filled with D.C. visitors---

"We've now honored a real who's who of America's top change makers." Hillary Schafer said.

Hillary Schafer is the CEO of the Jefferson Awards Foundation - an organization that gives about 1,500 people across the country a local award for doing good in their community every year.

"There's a whole celebrating up process," Schafer said.

Schafer says every year, five of those 1,500 are recognized with a national award - the Jacqueline Kennedy Onnassis Award - the recepients of which don't know they're nominated until they win.

"Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Mariano Rivera you know the list. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award winners, win the same award," Schafer said.

One of these ceremony attendees should be familiar to us here in the Ozarks.

No, not Bon Jovi.

This woman: Springfield's Dr. Tricia Derges.

"This is also our medical triage," Derges said.

You may remember Doctor Derges from a story we ran a while back.

"We keep everything super super busy," Derges said.

For those who might not remember, Doctor Derges runs a clinic called Lift Up Springfield, specializing in free-of-charge healthcare for the low-income and homeless.

"If you need help you come into our doors," Derges said.

Back a few months ago she accepted one of those 1,500 local awards. She was under the impression her award came with a ticket to this national ceremony.

Then, she learns about an award she didn't know she would win.

"This is an amazing story. After raising eight children, Tricia Derges took on a new challenge and went to medical school," a speaker said.

"I was out of breath," Derges said.

As she took the stage and received her award, the crowd heard her story.

"I have to thank the good Lord above," Derges said.

This story starts in the Ozarks, and doesn't end anytime time soon. 

"We've got a lot of growing to do. We're just starting," Derges said.

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