One doctor in Arkansas gave 200 people a great start to 2021.
Dr. Omar Atiq, a medical oncologist for nearly 40 years, closed his cancer clinic in March after nearly three decades in business, according to Good Morning America.
During the process of shutting down his medical office, Atiq decided to relieve some of his patients with their financial burdens.
"Over time I realized that there are people who just are unable to pay," Atiq told the news outlet. "So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt."
For months, Atiq worked with billing companies to try and collect payment from former patients with little successes. After the financial turmoil brought on from coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Atiq ultimately decided to stop reaching out.
During the week of Christmas, Atiq and his wife, Mehreen, made their generous gift known by sending out a holiday card.
"I hope this note finds you well," the note began. "The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for 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.”
According to the oncologist, medical bills owed to his practice totaled $650,000.
"Since I started practicing, I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their own 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 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," he added.
Atiq is currently a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and he and his wife are the parents of four children who are all aspiring doctors.
He hopes his gesture will give his patients some relief heading into 2021.
"I just hope that it made it a little bit easier for them. That’s it," he said. "I just hope that it gave them a little sigh of relief and made it easier for them so they could face other challenges they may be facing in their lives."