Tonight we’re honored to introduce Dr. Ala Stanford, pediatric surgeon and founder of Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium in Philadelphia.
Dr. Stanford has had an extraordinary career in medicine filled with both adventure and service. No stranger to “stepping up and stepping in”, she leapt into action in April, 2020 when she realized that Black Philadelphians had much higher infection and mortality rates than whites, but weren’t getting tested.
Her solution? Large-scale, no-cost, barrier-free testing at churches and other sites around Philadelphia that were easily accessible by communities least reached by other testing efforts. She also founded Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium to bring attention to long-standing racial disparities in health and health care in the city, and to organize efforts to close those gaps during the pandemic.
By January, Black Doctors Covid Consortium had tested more than 20,000 people, many of whom would not have had access to testing otherwise.
What’s next? While their testing program continues, Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium is now also focused on Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with the same attention to underserved populations and Philadelphia’s Black community.
Data from the first wave of vaccination in Philadelphia indicate that while 44% of the city’s population identifies as Black, Black residents made up only 12% of those who had been vaccinated.
Dr. Stanford is committed to closing that gap, too.
Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium will be offering vaccine clinics as Philadelphia transitions to Phase 1b. Dr. Stanford aims to reach the same populations who came to them for testing. She has been outspoken about what it will take to establish trust with communities who might be reluctant to vaccinate. In an KYW article (linked below), she said:
“You gotta listen to the folks…You can’t convince. You can’t coerce. You need to listen to what their fears are and then educate them … about the facts, what we know about the vaccine, and ask them a simple question: Is it safer for you to get coronavirus, or is it safer for you to take the coronavirus vaccine?”
In a video that went viral (link below to BDCC Instagram account), Dr. Stanford was filmed getting her vaccine dose and spoke movingly about what it meant to her and to her community. She noted the importance of the figure on her “I got the vaccine” sticker looking like her.
Dr. Stanford was recently awarded the Harris Wofford Active Citizenship Award for her work as founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. The citation for the award, presented to her by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, recognizes the many lives the consortium has saved. Mayor Kenney called Dr. Stanford a “real hero”.
We agree! We celebrate fellow Nerdy-Girl-In-Spirit and Pandemic Hero Dr. Ala Stanford!
📷: Kriston Jae Bethel for Philadelphia Magazine