Kind-hearted Arkansas doctor erases $650,000 worth of debt for 200 of his cancer patients after realizing they were unable to pay when he closed his clinic
- Dr. Omar Atiq closed his cancer clinic in Arkansas in March due to staff shortage
- Had been trying to collect outstanding bills from former patients for months
- Decided to stop when he realized some will never be able to pay it back and instead wrote them Christmas card informing them he was wiping their debt
A kind-hearted doctor erased $650,000 worth of debt for 200 of his cancer patients after he realized they were unable to pay when he closed his clinic.
Dr. Omar Atiq, founder of The Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff, had been operating on patients for close to 30 years before he was forced to close in March as a result of staff shortages.
When he shut down the clinic, which he opened in 1991, he worked with a billing company RMC of America to try and collect outstanding bills from patients for several months.
But, after struggling to recover the funds, he decided to stop trying and realized there were people who would never be able to pay.
Dr. Omar Atiq (pictured with his wife, centre) decided to wipe the outstanding debt of 200 patients, totalling $650,000, after spending months trying to collect it
The kind-hearted oncologist wrote Christmas cards to his former patients informing them that he was writing off their outstanding bills
The father of four, who is now working as a professor at the University of Arkansas, told Good Morning America: ‘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.’
Just before Christmas around 200 former patients, whose collective debt amounted to $650,000, received a card in the post telling them the good news.
KARK4 News reporter Hunter Hoagland shared a picture of the card on Twitter which reads: ‘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 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 doctor was forced to close his cancer clinic, which he set up in 1991, in March due to staff shortages and as since taken up a new role as a professor at the University of Arkansas
‘The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.’
He said since be began practicing medicine he had felt uncomfortable that people who were sick were forced to worry about money as well as their wellbeing.
After being hit by the coronavirus pandemic himself and seeing how it had devastated families across the US he said he was thankful that he could do something to help others.
The president of RMC of America Bea Cheesman said: ‘Dr. Atiq is a very caring individual and he’s always been extremely easy to work with as a client.
Dr. Atiq said he hopes his kind gesture makes people’s lives a ‘little bit easier’ this year. Pictured: Dr. Atiq, second from left, with his wife and their four children – all of which are doctors or studying to become doctors
‘I think personally that it’s just a wonderful thing that he and his family did in forgiving this debt because the people with oncology bills do have more challenges than the bulk of the population.’
Mr Atiq, whose four children are doctors or studying to become doctors, made it his mission to ensure no patients were ever turned away from his clinic because they couldn’t afford the treatment.
It provided a range of treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and diagnostics, Arkansas Online reports.
He said he hopes his gesture will help make the lives of his former patients a ‘little bit easier’.