Dr. Ala Stanford speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity in Philadelphia during a ceremony on Wednesday, 10/27/21 (Philadelphia Tribune photp)
By Ayana Jones
PHILADELPHIA — The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium is known for providing equitable access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines in the community.
When the consortium’s founder, Dr. Ala Stanford, realized there was a demand for services that went beyond testing and vaccines, she decided to launch a new health clinic.
Earlier this week, she cut the ribbon on the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) in North Philadelphia.
“That has to be the mantra for every health system — that people deserve … equitable care and that it’s a privilege for us to take care of you and that is how we treated every person that we encountered,” Stanford said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I want people to know that this should be the norm — this is what you should come to expect.”
The 12,000-square-foot center at 2001 W. Lehigh Ave. specializes in providing primary care and behavioral health care.
Stanford highlighted the center’s role in providing preventive care to community members and early detection of conditions such as heart disease, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
“No longer will it be like it was 24 years ago when I graduated from medical school, that African Americans and Latinx have a shorter life expectancy,” she said. “We are going to change that.”
“The sustainability of what we’re doing here has got to last,” Stanford continued. “It must outlive me.”
The center, which cost more than $1 million, was funded by a mix of donations from community members, corporations and city funding.
“This health equity center stands for everything that is broken in the health care system and what it should stand for,” said Shelah McMillan, the community liaison for the Black doctors group.
“Why we are here to serve all — it stands for every Black and brown woman and man that has ever felt unheard by the one percent who has taken the oath to care for them.”
“It stands for empowerment, encouragement, motivation and inspiration of every little Black girl or boy in North Philadelphia that cannot see their way out of their current bullet-ridden, trauma-filled circumstance,” she continued. “It stands for access, action, empathy, advocacy, education and equity.”
The facility officially opens next week and will accept insurance and offer a sliding fee scale to the uninsured.
The consortium has tested more than 25,000 patients and vaccinated more than 53,000 Philadelphians.
City Council President Darrell Clarke gave the consortium accolades for stepping up to help the community during the pandemic.
“We’re have some challenging times over the last 18, 19 months and during challenging times people respond differently,” he said.
“Some people scratch their head, they just don’t know what to do,” Clarke said. “But in these challenging times, there is a group of people who say, I’m going to fix this. I’m going to be a part of the solution. I’m not going to be a part of the problem. And Dr. Stanford and the Black Doctors Consortium — they stepped to the plate.”
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