Doctors Without Borders

Stories / January 21, 2014

Dr. Lory Feeler HeadshotA long time member of Jefferson City Medical Group, (JCMG), Family Medicine, Dr. Lory Feeler, D.O. has spent the past 30 years serving the community in Jefferson City.
She’s also shared her medical talents and passion for helping others in the Dominican Republic, where her numerous mission trips to the country resulted in a new medical clinic in Villa Liberacion being named the Dr. Lory Feeler Center for Health.  Her first trip to the Dominican Republic was in 2008 and she made two additional trips in 2010, where she and a group of healthcare professionals traveled to the country to treat up to 250 patients per day in makeshift clinics set up in various neighborhoods. Her congregation at the First Baptist Church raised more than $3,000 for building supplies, in hopes of building another medical clinic. With pick axes and shovels, they began digging while Feeler organized medication and patient information.

“I had no inkling that the clinic would be named after me and I only learned about it as I was sitting in a row of chairs during the dedication of the building,” she said. “I was totally dumbfounded and overcome with tears that day.”

While her name is on the new clinic building, she said it represents the hard work of many individuals in her local community and Canada and the Dominican Republic. Closer to home, the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS) honored Feeler with the 2011 Physician of the Year award for her accomplishments and service overseas, and she was also a nominee for the Zonta Club Women of Achievement Award.  Despite all these accolades, for Feeler it’s always been about service. For the past 35 years, she’s been an active member of the First Baptist Church, where she’s served as a Sunday school teacher and in 1993 was one of the first group of women to be ordained as a deacon. An adult sponsor for 10 youth mission trips, Feeler was involved in several adult non-medical trips as well, including six in the U.S. and one to Argentina. She’s made three medical mission trips to Reynosa Mexico, one to Haiti and five to the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Feeler Must Use Photo

Dr. Feeler of JCMG enjoys her mission work.

“There is nothing richer in my life than being able to practice medicine at its most basic level,” she said. “In the Dominican Republic, all titles and courtesies are stripped away; a patient needs help and I provide it.”
Drawn to mission work while still in college, Feeler’s first trip came soon after graduating from the University of Missouri– Columbia with a Bachelors of Science in Zoology. While there, she played both the piccolo and the symbols on the drum line in Marching Mizzou.“Music is my alter ego,” said Feeler, who plays the flute in the orchestra at church each Sunday and has also sung in the choir. As a child growing up in Cassville, Mo., she was passionate about music and played the flute in grade school and sang in various choirs and continued that in the medical school chorus.

Originally Feeler went to school to become a nurse but decided to go to medical school instead. “I was drawn to become a physician during my first year of nursing school. I saw first-hand that physicians had the privilege of directing the treatment plan and I wanted to be able to help patients as fully as possible so I changed my major,” Feeler said. One of only 13 females out of 100 total students in her class at the Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine, she chose osteopathic medicine because of its holistic approach to treating the entire body rather than the individual parts.

After she graduated in 1977 she did her internship at the then Charles E. Still Osteopathic Hospital, (which merged with Memorial Community Hospital and eventually became Capital Region Medical Center). From 1978 to 1995, she was part of the Hancock-Strong Family Clinic, Inc., in Holts Summit, which then merged with JCMG. During her 15 years there she’s taken on a leadership role.
Among the first physicians in the area to earn certification as a clinical densitometrist, she also established the first densitometry unit for the diagnosis of osteoporosis. As president of JCMG’s Ancillary Corporation, she coordinated the services for radiology, laboratory, nuclear medicine and pharmacy.

“JCMG has brought a level of high quality medical care to the area that’s often not found outside of large cities,” said Feeler. “Patients can come to one place and see a variety of specialists who all work closely together and I’m very pleased to have been a part of the group and its growth over the years.”

Dr. Feeler in Dominican Republic2

Photos submitted by Melissa Hatfield,
associate pastor for youth and missions
at First Baptist Church.

Feeler has cut back her time at JCMG to two and one half days a week and only sees acutely ill patients. She also spends more time with her three grandchildren, with another one on the way.
“From the beginning of my career I feel so blessed that my partners (the late Dr. Tom Hancock and Dr. Ron Strong) believed in the importance of family and allowed me to practice and focus on my own family,” she said.
She and her husband, Dale, have been married for 37 years, live in Tebbetts and have two children. Her daughter, Stephanie, is an RN, and lives in the Kansas City area, and has accompanied her on several of the mission trips. Her son, Jeff, a landscaper in Jefferson City, leads mission trips to Indian reservations in some of the poorest areas in South Dakota, where he’s helped plant trees and worked on their dream center.
“I’m so pleased that my children are carrying on the kind of service that is so important to me, it’s all about giving back to the community.” All of her mission work is a joint effort that connects her with her church family and her strong faith.
“My mission work is something that God has given me as a way to help people and show his love to them. It has helped me see the world through Jesus’ eyes,” she said.
“Through the people in the Dominican Republic and the other countries I’ve been able to share their faith and resilience and it’s truly awe inspiring what they live with and do despite all their hardships,” Feeler said. “The people there are so beautiful and welcoming. Being there has really been a gift.” ■

Dr. Feeler in Dominican Republic

Photos submitted by Melissa Hatfield,
associate pastor for youth and missions
at First Baptist Church.

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