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02-20-21-black-doctor-covid-19-consortium-vaccine-sukhmani-kaur

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium held a vaccine clinic at Temple University's Liacouras Center earlier this year.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will open a new primary care clinic aimed at combating health inequities this Wednesday.

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium – a local initiative that aims to boost vaccination rates and treat COVID-19 in Philadelphia’s Black communities – will provide a variety of services at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity or "ASHE." These will include wellness check-ups for children and adults, behavioral health treatment, blood work, and immunizations. Additionally, ASHE is conducting a pledge campaign for an x-ray and mammography suite.

Located in a 12,000-square-foot space at 2001 W. Lehigh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, the center contains eight exam rooms and three private behavioral health spaces – and will accept all forms of insurance.

“For us, it doesn’t matter what type of insurance you have, or don’t have. You’re going to see the same people, you’re going to get the same level of expert care, and that’s what we plan to deliver for everyone who comes into the door,” the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium's founder, Ala Stanford, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Stanford, a local general and pediatric surgeon, founded the consortium in April 2020 to reduce the disproportionately high impact of COVID-19 on Black communities in Philadelphia. The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium’s mission is to improve health outcomes for Black Americans, who face well-documented racial disparities in their quality of care. 

Since January, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium has offered free COVID-19 vaccines in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. So far, the consortium has vaccinated over 53,000 Philadelphians – about 80% of whom were Black. Penn students are among those who have received vaccinations at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium's clinics, and some have also volunteered for the effort. 

About 54% of Black Philadelphians are now vaccinated – one of the highest Black vaccination rates of any major United States city. Stanford said that this is due to the consortium’s recruitment of Black doctors, who were able to build trust with communities of color. 

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, initially comprised of 50 Black health care professionals, plans to employ five doctors, two physician assistants, two nurse-practitioners, and several additional nurses at ASHE.

This summer, the consortium offered sports physicals for Philadelphia high school athletes, which served as a trial run for a more permanent clinic. The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium then embarked on a $2 million renovation effort funded by a mix of private and corporate donations. The group hopes to secure additional funding from the city, state, and federal governments in the future.

“The sustainability of what we’re doing here has got to last,” Stanford told CBS Philly. “It must outlive me.”

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