MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – The pandemic continues to affect many members of our communities. One general surgeon from Midland, Jeff Durgin, says small practice owners like him have been hit hard by Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order to stop non-essential procedures.
“Nobody is looking my way. Nobody is looking out for me,” said Durgin. “There’s a lot of small businesses out there – a lot of doctors who’re on the front lines. They’re exposed to the virus, and we’re left all alone to fend for ourselves.”
Jeff Durgin has been a general surgeon for 14 years, and has owned multiple practices in Midland for 12. Durgin now finds himself commuting back and forth from an ER in Levelland just to make ends meet. He also works on-call at the Odessa Regional Medical Center.
“We can’t do any non-emergency procedures, so there’s a lot of doctors out there that had to close their offices or are struggling because of this order.”
To make matters worse, Durgin says health insurance for his family and employees are almost cancelled. He asked Blue Cross Blue Shield for a one month extension, but it denied him that request. He carries the financial burden of seven family members and 15 employees.
“My main problem is my health insurance. It’s basically cancelled for me, my family and my employees. I’m trying to take care of all of them. I love my employees; I want them to come back.”
He says while working in the frontlines, he comes in contact with patients that are positive for COVID-19. He is afraid of falling sick himself as that would become a huge financial burden for his family. His wife is also worried she will not get the medication she needs in two weeks time.
“I’ve applied for the Payroll Protection Program through the Small business Administration, and then I got a message saying that my information has been compromised – that I was a victim of identity theft.”
While no one could fully prepare for a global pandemic, he says he feels betrayed by the government.
“I’m a small business owner. People have a misconception that doctors are rich; they have this unlimited amount of money. But I’ve used all of my funds. The overall conceptions of most folks is they pass that act, and you can apply for funding, Just apply for funding! It’s that easy! Well I applied for funding, when it first came out.”
Durgin says he hopes Governor Abbott will reach out to health insurance companies, and ask them to provide grace periods.