GARLAND, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Even now that stay-at-home orders have been lifted, most rooms at the Our Family Medical Clinic in Garland, Texas remain empty.
Owner Mac Okwah said many of their patients, especially seniors, are staying away from the clinic, fearful of getting ill.
“It’s been rather difficult few months,” Okwah said. “We’ve used up all of our savings, tapped into our 401(k), and we are still struggling.”
Doctors’ offices across North Texas have seen a dramatic drop-off in visits forcing a growing number to reduce hours, reduce staffing, and even consider closing their doors.
Okwah said when Congress passed the CARES Act, which included the Provider Relief Fund for healthcare providers, he anticipated receiving some much-needed financial relief.
“We were like thank God. Here comes some help,” he said.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $175 billion has been set aside to help every healthcare provider impacted by the coronavirus.
Out of the billions of dollars in funds, the Our Family Medical Clinic’s relief payment totaled one dollar and 26 cents.
“I told my wife they can’t send us $1.26 – maybe it was just a test to see if the account is good,” Okwah said. “Amazingly, that was it – $1.26.”
According to records obtained by the CBS 11 I-Team, more than 4,000 North Texas healthcare providers received federal relief funding, totaling more than $658 million.
The area’s largest hospitals received the bulk of the money.
Dallas Methodist Hospital and Medical City Dallas both received $19 million.
Children’s Health was given $25 million.
UT Southwestern Medical Center received $28 million.
DFW Hospital Council CEO Stephen Love while the hospitals were “extremely appreciative”, the money barely covers a quarter of what the large hospitals have lost during the pandemic, mainly due to the cancellation of elective surgeries.
“It has been a significant financial hardship on all hospitals,” Love said.
But while a handful of hospitals received millions, more than 600 North Texas healthcare providers received less a $1,000, with 60 receiving less than $50.
“It was very disappointing,” said Okwah. “Here I am struggling to survive, doing everything I can, and seeing this check was just defeating.”
To figure out how much hospitals and clinics would get, HHS used a formula largely based on Medicare and Medicaid claims from 2018.
It was a quick and easy way to get the money out but it also left funding gaps for doctors who don’t see many Medicare patients and for practices that opened less than a year ago.
A HHS spokesperson told the CBS 11 I-Team for new clinics, “HHS will provide guidance on further distributions of the provider relief fund in the future.”
“We’re falling through the crack, no doubt,” said Okwah, “but then again, it’s the government. You just have to keep going.”