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World

Pakistani American doctor forgives patients’ $650,000 debt for cancer treatments

Dr. Omar Atiq is an oncologist who founded the Arkansas Cancer Institute in Pine Bluff in 1991. "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,” reads the note.
Published January 1, 2021

A Pakistani American doctor has forgiven $650,000 in outstanding debt from 200 patients with cancer.

Dr. Omar Atiq, originally from Pakistan, is an oncologist who founded the Arkansas Cancer Institute in Pine Bluff in 1991.

The doctor moved his family to Arkansas in 1991 after completing a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and receiving a job offer from the Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff.

His clinic sent out a holiday greeting to patients that 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 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.”

Talking to KARK, the oncologist said that this has been an especially challenging year and it brings him joy to help his patients financially.

“Being sick is hard, having cancer is harder, and having Cancer in this pandemic is devastating,” said Atiq.

It’s the first time the clinic, started in 1991, has done something like this. The clinic closed in February and does not plan to reopen.

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