Local healthcare hero gets a surprise from 'Good Morning America,' Patti LaBelle

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's safe to say Dr. Ala Stanford was stunned when "Good Morning America" surprised her on Monday morning outside the vaccination site at Deliverance Evangelistic Church in North Philadelphia.

"I knew nothing about this! I knew nothing!" Dr. Stanford exclaimed to Action News afterwards.

Dr. Stanford, founder of Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, thought she was taping an interview for a later date.

Then out popped GMA's TJ Holmes to inform her that it was actually a live tribute to Dr. Stanford.

Family, friends, staff and even Philadelphia's own legendary Patti LaBelle took time in the the segment to say thank you.

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Dr. Stanford, founder of Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, thought she was taping an interview for a later date, but soon learned it was a tribute to her.

"Dr. Stanford is so special because she cares about the world. She calls me a celebrity. She's the diva. She's the celebrity of life," LaBelle said in her interview with GMA.

Action News covered Dr. Stanford's work since the pandemic began, bringing testing and later vaccination sites to the city's Black and Brown communities.

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Having grown up in North Philadelphia, Dr. Ala Stanford said she knows what it's like to need and not have. That's why, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, she wanted to fill a hole she saw in the city's testing approach.

In the broadcast, Holmes stated, "8% of the vaccines that have been handed out in this country go to African Americans, but at your site- what's the percentage of African Americans that..."

Dr. Stanford jumped in saying, "75% African Americans and 82% people of color because we are intentional about it."

GMA presented Dr. Stanford with a $10,000 check and 20 cell phones with data, all provided from Visible, to go toward the effort.

The surprises didn't end there.

Holmes presented a real street sign from City of Philadelphia, bearing Dr. Stanford's name, that will go up in the neighborhood.

This was emotional.

This is forever.

"I want the city, the region, and honestly the nation to feel our impact long after the pandemic," Dr. Stanford said.

She added, "It's surreal. It's pretty awesome."
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