A Pakistani-American doctor, Dr. Omar Atiq, has removed nearly $60,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients who were struggling to pay the cost of cancer treatment.
Dr. Atiq closed his cancer treatment center in Arkansas after operating for nearly 30 years. He was working with a debt collection firm but decided to wipe off the debt after realizing that many families had been struggling to pay due to pandemic coronavirus.
Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans. https://t.co/4WnxYmMl2Z
— Kamran Yousaf (@Kamran_Yousaf) January 5, 2021
On Christmas, he informed his patients that any debts incurred on people will be erased. “Over time I realized that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr. Atiq said while talking to ABC’s show Good Morning America.
“So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it,” he said.
His Christmas note to patients read: “I hope this note finds you well. The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for the majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently 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.”
The President of the debt company working with Dr. Atiq said him a ‘very caring individual’.
“Since I started practicing, I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their health and quality of life and their longevity and their families and their jobs but also money,” he said. “That’s always tugged at me.”
“You add to it the absolute devastation that the [coronavirus] pandemic has wrought, and you think thank God that we’re fairly comfortable and this was something we could at least do to help the community,” said the doctor. He said he took this decision with his wife, Mehreen.
“I saw patients over the years who just didn’t have anything or who went bankrupt trying to pay for their treatment,” he said. “In many ways, it seems like an unfair situation.”
Dr. Atiq has been receiving praise within various circles for his kindness towards cancer patients.