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Donna Tighe, director of Community Health Services of Greater Derry, presents Dr. Gerald Spindel with the Extra Mile Award given by the nonprofit organization. Spindel, an opthalmologist, was recognized for his dedication to the community in providing care for hundreds of patients, including surgeries, over the 10 years that CHS has been in existence to aid the underinsured.

DERRY | Dr. Gerald Spindel is the first recipient of the Extra Mile Award given by Community Health Services of Greater Derry.

"We've been wanting to do this for a while, recognize the unsung heroes of CHS," said Donna Tighe, director of Community Health Services.

The nonprofit program is now in its 11th year of being a short-term bridge for individuals who don't qualify for public assistance programs, but for whom the costs of commercial health coverage are out of reach. The backbone of the program is its 115 physician participants, who provide care to eligible patients in the private offices.

"Dr. Spindel has been with us since the beginning," Tighe said. "He's seen hundreds of patients, and his staff goes out of their way to help."

Spindel is an ophthalmologist with four offices within the coverage area of CHS, including Derry, Londonderry, Salem and Plaistow.

"Dr. Spindel and his wonderful staff make the process seamless for CHS members," Tighe said. "He has provided lengthy and comprehensive treatment to patients with eye disease and has advocated for specialized surgery for members when necessary | all without fanfare or credit."

During CHS' February board meeting, members approved the semi-annual recognition of an individual who has demonstrated his or her service to CHS members is not viewed as a burden, but rather seen as an opportunity to be supportive of the community.

"It obviously feels good to receive this (award)," Spindel said Friday in his Derry office, when Tighe presented it to him. "The medical community and the town have been good to me. I'm happy to give something back."

Tighe said one of Spindel's first patients was a young woman with diabetes.

"Dr. Spindel continued her treatments long after she exhausted her CHS benefits," Tighe said. "He really cared about saving her eyesight."

Tighe noted the current health care environment seems to be about volume and revenue.

"We forget that a vast majority of physicians in our communities are dedicated and caring individuals who put the welfare of their patients above all else," she said. "In many ways, a number of our physicians go 'the extra mile.'"

Tighe said there are dozens of physicians just as committed as Spindel.

"We agreed to make the first recipient a physician, and with this inaugural award we could not have chosen a more appropriate recipient," she said. "In the future, though, it could be a nurse or other staff people who provided service in a compassionate and professional way."

For information on Community Health Services, call 425-2545.

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