“In Philadelphia, African Americans represent 44 percent of the population, but at last check, 52 percent of the deaths,” Says Pediatric surgeon Ala Stanford. “For me, that was unacceptable.”
The group is a newly-formed arm of Stanford’s firm, an association that includes a multitude of doctors and churches in Philadelphia’s Black neighborhoods.
Stanford had some testing kits on hand, as did many of her colleagues in the medical field, and so, she said, “we put our supplies together and we went out to the community.”
On Thursday, Stanford, two other doctors and two medical students loaded their supplies into a van and started making house calls, starting in West Philadelphia and working north. Her husband drove. She said they aim to keep going out every other day, supplies permitting, to test around 200 people per day.
“We have more volunteers right now than test kits,” she said. “We need the test kits, we need the PPE.”
Dr. Ala Stanford thought a lot about why Black people in Philadelphia might come into contact with COVID-19 more often than white people, and might be less likely to get tested. She said part of the problem is probably access to health insurance. But an even bigger part could simply be that a big portion of Philadelphia’s working class population is Black.
“We are many of the forward-facing employees,” she said. “We’re driving the buses, we’re driving … the subways and the trains. We are the post office workers, we are in the grocery stores, we’re ringing people up at the pharmacies.”
A GoFundMe the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium set up has raised more than $2,200 of its $50,000 goal as of Thursday night. Stanford said Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Einstein Medical Center and the city health department have also expressed interest in partnering with the group.
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