AUSTIN - It has been nearly four months since Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Texas, leaving many Texans still recovering and rebuilding, including doctors and their staff.
Many have applied for financial assistance from the Texas Medical Association, which has granted nearly $600,000 so far. It's Disaster Relief Program just reached the $1,000,000 mark in gifts from donations.
"When the doctor can't work, all their employees can't work, so there's a whole ripple effect through the community," said Dr. Michelle Berger, an Austin ophthalmologist.
She's also the treasurer for the Texas Medical Association. She said the money covers items that insurance doesn't.
"Whether it's replacing the sheet rock or expensive equipment, which most doctors have in their offices, it has to be for things that are not covered by other forms of relief so it fills in the gaps," said Dr. Berger.
Dr. Berger estimated roughly 100,000 doctors, their employees and patients were affected when Harvey shut down their offices along the coastal bend and other areas.
An impact some people may not have considered.
"Doctors employ people, they're a big economic engine," said Dr. Berger. "Employees don't come to town if there's not good health care, just like if there's not good schools, so you really have to get the health care in the community up and running quickly so you don't lose your population."
Dr. Berger said with the FEMA deadline passing last week, they'll soon have a better idea when this fund will no longer be needed.
Meantime, they'll continue giving out money as long as physicians continue applying for help.
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