Last August, Dr. Ala Stanford told Philadelphia Magazine that she needed “to see progress in whatever I’m doing. So I’m open to the possibility that I could end up helping to improve public health policy for African Americans, because they need a champion,” she says. “I don’t know that I’ll be the voice for the nation, but I can certainly be a voice right here in my city.”
Dr. Ala Stanford’s courage was recognized by Forbes Magazine. Her name was in the title that reviewed women who “lead the fight against COVID”. It was a hard-earned honor. She created, funded and launched the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium of Philadelphia.
“On April 3rd, the Philadelphia Tribune reported that African Americans were dying at a rate greater than anyone else. That was my wakeup call to say, ‘OK, I’m not just going to sit on the couch. I need to do something.'”
Ala Stanford from North Philly
Nothing has been a free gift to this Health Equality Advocate award-winning doctor. She is North Philadelphia’s pride and joy. She is a person they follow because of her charisma. People of color wait for her words. The entire nation admires her strength.
She graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s of science degree. She also received an M.D. from the College of Medicine. She became the first African American female pediatric surgeon trained entirely in the United States. She is also certified by the American Board of Surgery in pediatric and adult general surgery.
“People just didn’t expect an African American woman to attain certain heights, so the expectations were lower sometimes,” she said. “Then when I’d try to surpass them, I’d be told I was doing too much. They’d go from saying ‘She’s not aggressive enough to be a surgeon’ to ‘I hope she doesn’t think she’s going to just smile her way through surgery training.’ And it felt like weights on my ankles, pulling me down. Being a Black woman, trying to defy those expectations, that was and still is my biggest challenge.”
A record of sensitivity
The Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium set an important milestone by vaccinating more than 25,000 people in 31 days. Seventy-five percent of them were African American. Ala Stanford and the nation knew that African Americans were three times more contagious than whites. In addition, their mortality was 6 times higher than Caucasians.
Ala Stanford is a personality of extraordinary power in Philadelphia. She has the ability to transmute. Before the creation of Black Doctors Consortium “I was getting so frustrated by people telling me what they were going to do, and how long it would take and why it wouldn’t work.”
“I was just like, ‘OK, let me check my office and see what I have in the way of supplies. Let me see what my friends have in the way of supplies.’ And was like,‘We are going to do this while they figure it out. Because I can’t sit around and wait.’”
Translated by: José Espinoza