As Philadelphia continues to search for its next health commissioner, Dr. Ala Stanford, the founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, says she wants to take on that role and has the qualifications to do so.
As the leader of the Consortium, Dr. Stanford brought COVID testing and vaccinations into low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Yet in an exclusive interview with NBC10, she noted that the responsibilities of the health commissioner go far beyond the pandemic.
“I recognize it’s not just that,” Dr. Stanford said. “It’s prevention of disease. Promotion of health. Yes, we are in a pandemic but everything else didn’t stop. We still have maternal demise. Fetal demise in childbirth, opioid epidemic. We have lead. We have impure drinking water.”
Philly’s Health Department has been without a permanent health commissioner since last month when Dr. Thomas Farley resigned. Cheryl Bettigole has been the city’s acting commissioner since then.
The Philadelphia Health Commissioner is required to live in Philadelphia and Dr. Stanford currently resides in Montgomery County. She told NBC10 she is ready and willing to move to the city.
A city spokesperson told NBC10 the process in finding the next health commissioner has not yet begun and the mayor’s office will not be commenting on any individual candidacy.
The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium is also renovating a space it currently uses at the Deliverance Evangelistic Church on 21st Street and Lehigh Avenue. The location will turn into an expanded clinic offering flu vaccinations, pediatric and adult care as well as other services. The new clinic is expected to open in October.
“The need in the community is so great,” Dr. Stanford said. “People started using us as their primary care health provider. And even though the pandemic is waning, we need to be prepared for what if we get an uptick again in the fall.”