Doctor Recognized for Leading the Charge to Fight COVID in Philadelphia’s Underserved Neighborhoods

Dr. Ala Stanford administers a COVID-19 swab test on Wade Jeffries in the parking lot of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Stanford and other doctors formed the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to offer testing and help address heath disparities in the African American community. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Patrick Berkery

November 24, 2021

More than 50,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 through the efforts of Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.

PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Ala Stanford, a pediatric surgeon at Jefferson Abington Hospital in Montgomery County and founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, is one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of 2021. And you can help her be No. 1.

Stanford, a North Philadelphia native, founded the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The lack of access to coronavirus testing in Black and brown communities spurred her into action, as she gathered up PPE from her office, acquired testing kits, rented a van, and offered free testing to Philadelphia neighborhoods where positivity rates were the highest.

Once vaccines became available, Stanford expanded her efforts to deliver vaccinations on street corners, at community centers, places of worship, and even in homes throughout the city. At their largest event, a 24-hour Vaxxathon at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in February, Stanford and the Black Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium vaccinated more than 4,000 people.

In total, more than 50,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 through Sanford’s efforts, 82% of them people of color.

Stanford told CNN: “The atmosphere when we vaccinate is joy. It’s new beginnings. It’s exhaling for a lot of people because they’ve finally done it. It’s also emotional — a lot of tears for folks because it takes them back to a person that they lost. We had a woman whose mother had died the night before from COVID. When she came up she was still sobbing and we just built a circle around her, held hands around her and let her cry.”

“I love Philadelphia, so I could not allow one additional life to be lost when I knew that I could do something about it.” 

You can vote here for Stanford to be named CNN’s Hero of the Year. Voting runs from now through Dec. 7.


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