Nov 4, 2021 - News
Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity opens in North Philly
Ala Stanford, a surgeon, stands inside the hallway of her new health center in North Philadelphia.
Ala Stanford stands inside the hallway of her new health center in North Philadelphia. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

A new health center has opened its doors in North Philly.

Why it matters: The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity is located in a low-income ZIP code that has both a high poverty rate and some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the city.

  • "It just seemed like the right space to start," said Ala Stanford.

Driving the news: Stanford, an African American surgeon who rose to fame last year for running COVID-19 testing clinics in underserved neighborhoods, began accepting patients at the primary care health center that bears her name on Wednesday.

Details: The health center is based in a former school at Deliverance Evangelistic Church and serves all ages, from newborns to seniors. It boasts eight exam rooms, five doctors, nurses and more.

  • The clinic is funded by a combination of private dollars, grants and donations. It'll offer care on an income-based sliding scale.
  • Coronavirus vaccines will be offered at the clinic, including Pfizer shots for children ages 5-11 following U.S. approval this week.

What they're saying: Stanford hopes the center will become a model for the city and nation to address health care disparities in communities of color.

  • "You need culturally competent, culturally relevant people in diverse communities," she said. "It means that you need to understand their lived experiences and understand their challenges, that the care you provide is equitable."

Logan neighborhood residents Hong Lam and his wife were at the clinic Wednesday morning to get their 9-year-old a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • "It's a real boost to the community," Lam told Axios about the clinic. "Because we don't know where to go or who to trust, so this is a good thing."

Between the lines: Stanford was a one-time candidate for city health commissioner before pulling her name from consideration this week over potential conflict-of-interest concerns around running her center.

The bottom line: Stanford hopes her health clinic will have a lasting legacy in Philadelphia.

  • "Long after I'm a senior citizen and I'm long and gone, I want this center for health equity to still be here and maybe be one of many in the city," she said.
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