Philadelphia nurse doubles as block captain to keep neighborhood safe through pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's hard to find just one title for Shelah McMillan because she's a pretty hard person to keep up with.

She's a block captain who spent election day volunteering at the polls. She's a mom and grandma.

And every day, in the hours in between, she's on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a school nurse with the School District of Philadelphia, emergency room nurse at Einstein Medical Center, and tester with the Black Doctor's COVID-19 Consortium.

"The people need us and I'll continue to do this as long as there is a need to have it done," said McMillan.

The consortium was started last spring by Dr. Ala Stanford, who saw a need for more testing in Black communities where COVID-19 infections are still disproportionately high. Shelah offered to help.

"She said definitely and bring whoever you can, and from there it's history," said McMillan.

Three times a week, the consortium holds free COVID-19 testing, and now gives free flu shots too, in disadvantaged communities in Philadelphia and the suburbs.

"What I need for people is to get educated about it. Get tested, know your numbers, know your status," she said.

McMillan has helped run testing sites in her neighborhood too at places like Second Macedonia Baptist Church. She says through this pandemic, it's important people see a familiar face they trust.

"She's just a special person, in Christ," said McMillan's neighbor, Annie Alston.

Always the helper on her block, McMillan is now a hero for thousands more, but she doesn't see it that way.

"I'm Shelah, I'm mom, I'm nunni, I'm the neighbor, I'm the block captain, I'm just me," she said.
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