HOUSTON — Any Texas physician whose Harvey-damaged medical practice is located in a federally declared disaster area now may apply for relief funds from the Texas Medical Association (TMA) Disaster Relief Program.
“The application for affected physicians is now live,” declared TMA President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD. “We want physicians to be able to apply for support as quickly as possible so we can send funds to them as fast as we can. Their communities’ patients are struggling, their staffs are hurting, and they are straining to get their practices get up and running again, so we want to help ease those burdens.”
The TMA Disaster Relief Program’s oversight committee this week finalized the application and process to distribute funds to the countless physicians who lost their medical practice to the hurricane.
The funds will help physicians pay for storm loss expenses their insurance or other sources will not cover. For many doctors’ offices throughout southeast Texas, damage is terrific. Many lost everything but the shells of the buildings themselves — from medical equipment to vaccines to office furniture and computers.
TMA’s goal is to raise at $1 million or more. The program received an enormous boost last weekend, raising the tally to nearly $920,000.
The need is enormous: A new TMA survey finds nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of physicians in Texas’ official disaster-area counties were forced to close their practice temporarily, while one-third (35 percent) had to reduce their hours or services. That equates to tens of thousands of patients left without their doctor to care for their injuries or illnesses during a time when many also face the upheaval of destruction of their homes or places of work.
Dr. Cardenas assembled a blue-ribbon panel of TMA Family members including five past TMA presidents, the chair and a member of The Physicians Benevolent Fund, and physicians in the disaster areas to oversee the TMA Disaster Relief Program. Don R. Read, MD, TMA immediate past president, is the committee chair.
TMA continues to accept contributions to the program in hopes of helping each physician rebuild to care for patients again.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. The TMA Foundation raises funds to support the public health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the Family of Medicine.