A new fund that has already provided $75,000 in natural-disaster relief for physician practices is accepting donations to help support that effort.
The AMA Foundation (AMAF) created the Physician Disaster Recovery Fund, which has donated $25,000 each to three organized medicine foundations collecting funds to help physician practices recover from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Intended for physicians in federally designated disaster areas, the money is earmarked specifically for practice essentials such as replacing equipment, restoring patient records and meeting other needs related to patient care.
“It is essential for doctors to quickly rebuild their medical practices to continue serving their communities, and we are thankful for the generous donors who are enabling physicians to get back to the vital work of caring for their patients,” said AMAF Board President, Joshua M. Cohen, MD. The AMAF is the philanthropic arm of the AMA, and its other activities include grants to community health programs, medical school scholarships and leadership training for medical students.
The organizations that have received the AMAF donations are:
- Texas Medical Association Foundation, to benefit the TMA Disaster Relief Program for practices damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
- Florida Medical Association’s Foundation for Healthy Floridians Medical Disaster Fund for practices damaged by Hurricane Irma.
- Indiana Association of Family Physicians Foundation, which is helping physicians in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
In addition, the AMA has donated $150,000 each to those physician relief efforts in Texas and Florida.
The AMAF has established a donations webpage where contributions can be designated for specific locations or where the need is greatest. The site is also collecting contributions for the California Medical Association Foundation to aid practices damaged by wildfires in that state.
Texas was the first state to suffer devastating damage this hurricane season—from Harvey in August—and some physicians in affected areas are still reeling from the devastation.
“There is a huge need for help for these physician practices that have been put out of business and have had to move, or now because of the flood they have to buy all new equipment,” said Immediate TMA Past President Don R. Read, MD, a Dallas surgeon and chair of the TMA’s Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund Program committee. It is a committee of The Physicians Benevolent Fund, which is a TMA organization. Dr. Read said that most of the requests have been for flood damage not covered by insurance.
“We very much appreciate the donation from the AMA Foundation. It has been a great help in assisting physicians and we expect to spend all the money we’ve collected so far in helping all these different practices that were affected by the flood,” he said.
The TMA, at last count, had just surpassed its $1 million fundraising goal thanks to a new gift from organized medicine in Michigan. Almost $570,000 already has been distributed. It went to 49 medical practices employing 135 physicians and 1,048 non-physician staff.
A major focus of the Indiana Association of Family Physicians Foundation, which has raised more than $100,000, is to provide generators to aid physicians in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria did major damage to the island’s electrical grid.
“So far, we have 50 practices open with generators purchased and soon will add 15 more practices and offices” said family physician Kim Yu, MD, a California physician who helped organize the effort. “These generators are being used to not only provide light, but also power for refrigerators for medications, like insulin and vaccines. They are also being used to power machinery required to fix offices and repair from all the hurricane damage.”
She added that there remain many physicians “who require generators to help power equipment like EKGs, ultrasound machines, nebulisers and more—but we lack funding. Thank you, AMA Foundation, for helping Puerto Rico doctors get back to doing what they do best: healing, caring and seeing patients.”
Dr. Yu said she is “hoping we will be able to raise more funds” for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island.
“It’s so terrible there, and it looks like many will be without power for many more months,” she said.
The AMAF, in addition to its donations website, is accepting contributions by mail and telephone. Make checks out to AMA Foundation, and send to 330 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 39300, Chicago, IL 60611-5885. For telephone donations, call 312-464-4200.