Good People Doing Good Things — Dr. Ala Stanford

Today I have only one ‘good people’ for you, but she is … WOW!  She is doing far more than her share to keep the Black community in Philly healthy and not for a fee!


Earlier this week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that 70% of the city’s adults had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine — reaching President Biden’s goal for the nation ahead of schedule.

Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. Only one-quarter of those vaccinations have gone to Black residents even though they make up more than 40% of the city’s population.

Throughout the pandemic, people of color have been devastated by Covid-19 in the US — dying at a much greater rate than white Americans. Now, as deaths have fallen with increased vaccinations, those dying are younger and more disproportionately Black.

Enter Dr. Ala Stanford …

Since April 2020, Dr. Ala Stanford has been working to change that. Her group, the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, has brought testing and vaccines to more than 75,000 residents of Philadelphia’s minority neighborhoods.

“We are intentional about focusing on communities that have the low vaccination rates and the highest positivity rates. Those who are most vulnerable … they need to have the support.”

It’s an unlikely path for Stanford, a pediatric surgeon, but she’s always defied expectations. Born to teen parents in north Philadelphia, her family often struggled to make ends meet. But that didn’t keep Stanford from dreaming big.

“I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was about 8 years old … and I never believed I couldn’t do it. That grit that comes from being a poor kid raised in Philadelphia is what has given me the tenacity to press on, no matter what.”

She became a surgeon and built a successful private practice. But in March 2020, her work slowed dramatically when the country shut down, so she hunkered down at home with her husband and three young sons. Early that April, she was disturbed to hear about the high fatalities of Black residents in Philadelphia. Then a Drexel University researcher reported that people in affluent white areas of the city were being tested six times more frequently than those in poor minority areas. Stanford knew that people of color were more vulnerable to Covid-19 for many reasons, including that they were likely to be essential workers. Knowing they weren’t getting tested deeply upset her.

“This was your working-class community. They were keeping the city and the country running. But wherever Black people were, one thing that was tough to come by was testing.”

So, she gathered up PPE from her office, got testing kits, rented a van and headed out to bring free testing to areas where positivity rates were the highest.

“The first day we did a dozen tests. The second time we went out, we did about 150 tests. And the third time … there were 500 people lined up before we started.”

Throughout 2020, they provided free testing in the parking lots of local churches, mosques, community centers and SEPTA stations, eventually offering antibody testing and flu shots as well as Covid testing. In January, Stanford and her team began offering Covid vaccinations and for the first few months, vaccinated an average of 1,000 people a day. The group also ran a 24-hour “Vax-A-Thon” at which they inoculated more than 4,000 people.

The volunteer effort that Stanford initially funded from her own pocket is now a large operation with 70 employees and more than 200 volunteers. In recent weeks, as the pace of vaccinations has slowed, the group found new ways to reach those in need. Their events now often include music, free refreshments, t-shirt giveaways and other incentives. More than 1,000 people have signed up for their home vaccination program and they’ve targeted teenagers with special events as well as high school visits to answer questions about the vaccine.

The group is currently based in a church in North Philadelphia. In the fall, they plan to open a health equity center there until they ultimately open their own permanent facility.

Stanford’s efforts have brought her such acclaim that she’s now under consideration to be the city’s next health commissioner!

“Just seeing folks come out, day in and day out … their presence says everything. This wasn’t my job, but I could not allow one additional life to be lost when I knew that I could do something about it.”

Dr. Stanford was recently nominated as a CNN Hero and here is a snippet of her interview with CNN’s Kathleen Toner …

CNN: What’s the atmosphere like when you vaccinate people?

Dr. Ala Stanford: Honestly, the atmosphere is joy. It’s new beginnings. It’s exhaling for a lot of people because they’ve finally done it. It’s also emotional — a lot of tears for folks because it takes them back to a person that they lost. We had a woman whose mother had died the night before from Covid. When she came up she was still sobbing and we just built a circle around her, held hands around her and let her cry.

CNN: How have you dealt with people’s fear or hesitation about getting vaccinated?

Stanford: We tried to prepare for it. In the fall, we conducted a survey that gave us some insight into what would make people more comfortable taking the vaccine when it became available. Then in December, I got vaccinated. I’d had Covid, so I’d thought about not getting vaccinated because I knew I had antibodies, but I took on that responsibility because people were following my lead. Then, when we started vaccinating, we had one day where we ran out of vaccine, so I said to the city, “This hesitancy in the Black community, we are not seeing it.” They were lined up.

But there are people who have concerns — understandably — and it’s not my job to persuade. It’s my job to educate and allow you to make an informed decision about your health. So, I listen to what the reason is why they’re not getting vaccinated — sometimes it’s lack of education, sometimes it’s fear, sometimes they can’t even tell you why. Sometimes the questions they have, there are no answers for. So, I just state the facts and I’m honest with them. But you’re more likely statistically to die if you’re African American and you contract coronavirus. That is a fact. Regardless of how much money you make or not, regardless of comorbid conditions or not. I tell them, “You have to weigh the risks and benefits” and I’m available to listen and answer. It’s not a one-time conversation for some people. Some people need to come back and watch a couple of people get it. And then they’re like, “OK, Doc. I’m ready.”

CNN: How did the idea for your new center come about?

Stanford: The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious how we are missing the mark with health equity in the United States, so we’re opening a multi-disciplinary clinic on October 1st where we can do family practice, pediatrics, phlebotomy and flu shots. Who knows — we may need to do booster shoots for coronavirus.

But this is answering the need of the community. People just started showing up to say, “Hey Doc, could you look at my labs?” or “I’ve got this lump on my neck. Is this normal?” So that’s what’s next for us. Our mission has always been about getting Black and brown communities the access and care they deserve.

Dr. Stanford is one in a million, a doctor who is more concerned with people in need and their health than with her fees, and she has done so much to help the Black community in and around Philadelphia.  Every city should have a Dr. Stanford!

Only Two Very Snarky Snippets

There are days when I feel there is a large contingent of people in this nation that truly do not have functional brains.  No, none of you, dear readers, but others seem not to understand this concept of rights being accompanied by responsibilities.  I’ve long said that my rights end where they begin to infringe on somebody else’s, but in the United States today, that concept has flown out the window!  I often feel these last few years that this country, has gone, as my grandpa used to say, “to hell in a handbasket!”


2nd Amendment freaks!

When I first heard a day or two ago that Texas has passed legislation that would end the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns, I thought surely this must be wrong … how can Texas do such a lunatic thing?  It would mean no background checks would be done, no license to even know who owns what guns.  But, a bit of research shows me that … Texas would not be the first state to enact such a lunatic law!  The bill has passed both chambers of the Texas legislature and Governor Abbott has already said he would sign it, so it’s pretty much a done deal … all over except the shootings, the tears, the useless ‘thoughts and prayers’.

The following states, for example, to not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Iowa (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota (residents only and concealed carry only)
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Utah (as of May 5, 2021 for concealed carry only)
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (for open carry and concealed carry for residents only. Concealed carry will be legal for all legal U.S. residents as of July 1, 2021.)Source

This means that in those states, people who have never passed a background check, who may be child molestors or domestic abusers, may have serious mental health issues, are walking around with guns in their pockets.  Is this not the craziest thing???  Is it any wonder people are opening fire in grocery stores, on the streets, and at birthday parties?  If I lived in any of those states, I would never leave my home, and nobody would ever be allowed in!  In fact, I’d move!

This nation has gone way too far off the rails when it comes to guns.  The 2nd Amendment that the gun nuts love so much was never intended to be abused in this way.  The Founding Fathers would be horrified to see what a mockery we have made of the 2nd Amendment, how it has been so badly and intentionally mis-interpreted over the years.  I blame the gun manufacturers who put their own greed above our lives; I blame the NRA who have riled the masses, told them blatant lies about what the 2nd Amendment intended, and then bought and paid for members of Congress, largely Republicans, in order to ensure that no sensible gun legislation can ever pass;  I blame those same members of Congress; and lastly I blame the fools and idiots in this country who think their right to own a lethal toy supersedes our right to safety.

Is it any wonder that people in every other nation on earth look at the United States and laugh at what bloody fools we are?  No, it is not.  Were it in my power, I would take every gun in the hands of private citizens and throw them into the ocean!  Enough said … my blood pressure just hit a new record high and I must calm down now.

For more information on state-by-state gun laws, or more appropriately lack of gun laws, check out Wikipedia.


And speaking of really, really stupid laws …

You have no further to look than Florida, where it is now against the law to ask employees or customers if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.  This is ridiculous and is a tremendous disservice to both employees and customers!

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed executive orders canceling all Covid-related restrictions for the entire state, including mandates for facemasks and rules limiting capacity in public places. At the same time, he also signed into law legislation prohibiting vaccine passport requirements in the state.  Said the guv …

“This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses. In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

It should come as no surprise that, per an ABC News report just two days ago …

“Variant COVID-19 infections skyrocketed following spring break in Florida and there have been more than 10,000 variant cases reported throughout the state, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported based on data from the Florida Department of Health.”

In addition to all the lives DeSantis has put at risk with his greed and foolishness, Florida may well have another reason to regret this foolishness, as some cruise lines are already considering moving their business out of Florida.  Most cruise lines require proof of vaccinating from both employees and customers.  This isn’t discriminatory, it is for public safety, for Pete’s Sake!  Do you want to be in close quarters for days on end with somebody who may not show symptoms but may have the coronavirus?  I don’t!  At least one company, Norwegian Cruise Line, has made its position clear when CEO Frank Del Rio said …

“That’s an issue, but at the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and god forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from. And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida.”

I would bet money that other cruise ship companies will feel the same, for I seriously doubt they want all the lawsuits that could evolve as a result of just one infected passenger or employee.


And now, Filosofa is done ranting and I shall return you to your regularly scheduled programming …

Da ‘Toons Tell Da Story

Because we could all use a bit of comic relief right about now, I am re-blogging TokyoSand’s cartoon post for the week.  As always, she has sought and found the most relevant and overall best political cartoons from the past week, obviously most about the impeachment trial.  Thanks, TS!!!


The Week’s Best Cartoons: Impeachment Trial #2

toon-1toon-2toon-5toon-3

See All The ‘Toons!

The World Is ONE!

We don’t need a world leader; we need world team players.  We need nations to work together to solve some of the most pressing problems that affect all people in all nations, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, world-wide poverty and food insecurity.  Instead, we cannot even achieve cohesion within a single nation.  Instead, half the population of the U.S. believe climate change is a hoax and refuse to do so much as turn their thermostat down and don a sweater.  Instead, we add more nuclear weapons rather than supporting the reduction of the global nuclear arsenal.  Instead, we pander to the already-wealthy and turn a blind eye toward the poor.  We continue to populate the earth, even knowing that the earth cannot support more people.

On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, no later than Friday.  Why?  According to a spokesperson for the State Department, “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.”

“The United States will not tolerate the PRC’s violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the PRC’s unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs and other egregious behavior.”

Funny, isn’t it, that the ‘United States’ is perfectly willing to not only tolerate but encourage Russia to violate our sovereignty and intimidate our people.  Have you ever felt intimidated by anyone from China?  I haven’t, but I’ve damn sure felt violated by Vladimir Putin and his henchmen who interfered in our 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump, leaving us on a ship headed for an iceberg.

That same spokesperson intimated that China was in violation of the Vienna Convention, that they had somehow breached the requirement that diplomats must “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State” and “have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

And yet … the U.S. State Department had no problems with Trump bullying the United Kingdom into banning Chinese tech company Huawei from the UK’s 5G telecoms network. No problem with Trump attempting to blackmail the president of the Ukraine into creating false data to bolster Trump’s own bid for re-election.  No problem at all demanding that other members of the G7 accept Russia back into the fold.

The demand for closure of the consulate appears to be in retaliation for two Chinese nationals accused of hacking into U.S. pharmaceutical companies doing coronavirus research.  Russia has also been accused of hacking into drug companies research in the UK, U.S., and Canada, but … no Russian facility has been ordered closed. No sanctions have been applied to Russia.  In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned by any in the government.  Double standard?  Oh yeah, definitely.  China didn’t help Trump in 2016 and isn’t helping him now, so they are not entitled to the ‘special privileges’ that Russia is.  Trump is Russia’s puppet, not China’s.

China vowed to retaliate, likely by forcing the U.S. to close either the embassy in Beijing or one of the five consulates it has in various cities in China.  This, my friends, is how tensions escalate and wars begin.

But let’s talk for a minute about countries hacking into the virus vaccine research.  Mind you, I am not in support of hacking at any level … ever.  However, I think we need to consider some extenuating circumstances here.  We have a pandemic that is killing people in every nation around the globe.  The pandemic is also killing businesses and economies around the globe.  This is not unique to the U.S. or the UK, though these two nations have done possibly the worst jobs of any in dealing with the virus.  Donald Trump has already made it abundantly clear that he is pushing drug companies in the U.S. to rush through a vaccine by election day, November 3rd, in order to give him a campaign advantage.  It doesn’t matter whether it remains effective in the long-term, nor whether there are devastating side effects down the road, just so long as he can tout that he was the reason there is a vaccine. Worse yet, he has declared his intent to buy any and all vaccines for the U.S. and keep other nations from having access to them.  So … other nations will do what they must to attempt to gain access to a vaccine in order to keep their people from dying.  It’s simple.

If you have no food in your house and no way to get any, but your neighbor has so much food that he must store his potatoes on his back porch, yet he refuses to give you so much as a single potato to feed your poor starving children, will you not be tempted to steal a few potatoes from him?  Greed and arrogance go hand in hand, and Trump has a triple dose of each.

People like Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and others seem to have lost sight of the fact that the people in China, Russia, Mozambique and every other nation on the globe are … human beings.  There is nothing that makes citizens of the United States any better than the people of Afghanistan, Ghana, or India.  They are no more deserving of life than any person in any other nation.  If a vaccine is developed that is proven both effective and safe, the ‘recipe’ should be freely shared with every pharmaceutical company in the world so that enough can be manufactured to help every person on the globe.  This should not be about profit … but it is.

This should be about human life, about people.  It should not matter in what country or on what land mass those people live.  It should not matter the colour of their skin or what religion, if any, they follow.  It should not matter if they are rich or poor.  But it will.  It will because the leaders of some nations are arrogant and greedy.  It will matter because people who have more money than they could possibly need in a lifetime are more concerned with making even more profit than they are with the lives of people.

Imagine if the top 1% of all people on the economic scale gave … oh, say 5% of their net wealth to providing the vaccine, once developed and fully tested, to every man, woman and child on the planet?  The 1% would still be ultra-wealthy by any standards, and how many million lives would be saved?  Call it socialism if you wish, but in my book, it is simply humanitarianism.

I end as I began … we don’t need a specific nation to step up and become the “leader of the free world”, as the U.S. was once known.  We don’t need China or Russia or the U.S. to be the “leader” who dictates how the world should be run.  We need teamwork among nations, we need all of our leaders to put the greater good ahead of personal profit, ahead of their own desire for power.  We need people of conscience at the head of every nation, not the bungling Trumps, Johnsons and Bolsonaros we see today.  We simply cannot stay on this path we are on and still survive.