Oncologist Forgives Debt of Nearly 200 Patients
Back in February of 2020, Dr. Omar Atiq had to close his Pine Bluff, Arkansas cancer clinic due to staffing shortages. Just before Christmas, he decided to stop trying to collect outstanding debt from his patients and simply forgave it all.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that the Arkansas Cancer Clinic, which Dr. Atiq founded in 1991, sent notice to nearly 200 patients about the forgiveness shortly before Christmas day.
"Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for the majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome," the notice read. "The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients.
So, how much was forgiven? According to the Gazette, about $650,000.
Dr. Atiq says the pandemic was a deciding factor for him, as he didn't want outstanding debt to his shuttered clinic to be one more burden for people who are already struggling financially. He reportedly worked with the billing company to not only cancel the debt, but ensure that those who were forgiven don't face negative financial repercussions such as difficulty obtaining credit.
According to Dr. Atiq, one reason for the large amount of debt was that his clinic never refused a patient.
If you're worried about Dr. Atiq now that his clinic's closed and he's let go of so much debt, don't be. He's a professor at UAMS College of Medicine and an oncologist at the UAMS William P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. He'll be just fine.
The holiday season comes to a close tomorrow (January 2) for most folks, but the spirit of compassion and generosity doesn't have to. You may not have hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt you can forgive, but there are plenty of acts of everyday kindness you can share to keep the holiday spirit alive throughout what's probably going to be another tough year.
Being kind is the easiest new year's resolution to keep.
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