HOMETOWN HEROES: Doctor brings COVID-19 testing to Philadelphia neighborhoods

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 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.

"We started with all the hard-hit communities in Philadelphia because that's where the reports came out that there were an increased number of African-Americans who had died," said Dr. Standford.

She started the Black Doctor's COVID-19 Consortium to bring testing to places people could walk to, like the subway station at Broad Street and Olney Avenue, or neighborhood churches like Old Macdeonia Baptist.

Philadelphia data shows African-Americans have the highest infection rate of any race in the city and account for about 46% of cases. Dr. Stanford has helped test 5,000 people so far for free.

"That meant if you didn't have insurance, LabCorp billed me for the test and I didn't charge a professional fee to perform the test," said Dr. Standford.

Just to open the testing sites, Dr. Stanford says she spent about $50,000 of her own money. That doesn't even count all the doctors and nurses volunteering there to help, but she says it's worth it because she knows she's making a difference.

"Even though we're tired we don't get weary because they refuel and their gratitude is just, you can't contain it," she said.

"You can't do better than this lady here," said one man who came for free testing.

"It's positive that we come to get tested by her," said another.

Now, she says she worries there could be a surge in cases because of the protests. That's why she says the consortium opened a testing site Tuesday that saw about 300 people, while city testing sites were shut down.

"Now more than ever you need to have the testing sites for folks who have been exposed and they have been out there protesting peacefully for days in a row," she said.
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