Now Reading: Pakistani Doctor Forgives $650,000 Debt for Cancer Patients in US
Making his country proud, a doctor of Pakistani origin in the United States of America has recently waived off $650,000 worth of medical bills for nearly 200 of his patients suffering from cancer. Dr Omar Atiq is an established Professor of Medicine and oncologist who founded a cancer treatment center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He did this outstanding deed as a ‘Christmas gift’, sending out a holiday greeting to patients before it and announcing that their outstanding payments would be cleared.
As per details, Dr. Atiq’s clinic used to provide cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and diagnostics before it was closed in late February due to shortage of staff. At that point, the outstanding amount of debt for treating patients was nearly at around $650,000. Luckily though, the clinic managed to work with a billing company and got the debt cancelled.
In the Christmas card to the patients for the revelation, Dr. Atiq wrote,
“I hope this note finds you well. The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurers pay most of the bills for [the] majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, this is the way our health care system works. Arkansas Cancer Clinic is closing its practice after over 29 years of dedicated service to the community. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”
A Man with a Golden Heart
Reportedly, when the thought of getting the debt forgiven first crossed his mind, Dr. Atiq reached out to the executive vice-president of the Arkansas Medical Society, David Wroten, confirming some stuff. As per Wroten, Dr. Atiq just wanted to ensure there was nothing improper about doing it. Of course, Wroten assured that there wasn’t, stating that, “I can’t, for the life of me, imagine there would be.”
About his work ethic and his care for the patients, Wroten has described that Dr. Atiq “truly has a heart-felt love affair with the patients” and has gotten “as much from his patients as they have gotten from him”. He went on to add that if the people personally knew Dr. Atiq, they would better understand it. Wroten then emphasized that Dr. Atiq is not only one of the smartest doctors he knows about, but he is also one of the most compassionate doctors he have ever known.
Shedding light on how cancer treatment is “very expensive”, Wroten said that there are people who will pay on their bills may be $10 a month, for 20 years. Keeping this fact in mind, Dr Atiq revealed that his clinic has amount of outstanding debt that it does partly because “we have never refused to see a patient.”
“Not for lack of health insurance or funds nor for any other reason,” Atiq clarified, “I’ve just always considered it a high honor and privilege to be someone’s physician – more importantly than anything else.”
A Final Service
Referring to the decision to close the clinic and move after all these years, Dr. Atiq said,
“We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff. We just thought we could do it, and we wanted to, so we went ahead and did it. It is really fate. We have been very grateful. This has been home for a long time. We are grateful for the opportunity for what has happened to our lives here.”
Talking about the patients’ debts, Atiq said he was happy to give his patients a bit of relief. “Being sick is hard, having cancer is harder, and having cancer in this pandemic is devastating. I am just a regular physician — a regular person that they have in the neighborhood — just so happens to be me standing here. The ones struggling couldn’t pay, so we thought we could just write off the debt,” he said.
He concluded about this last service;
“I love them and I care for them. I am glad I was able to do a little bit at this point for them.”