Even from the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, it was clear that this deadly virus—like so many other health issues—was not going to hit everyone equally. Instead, it has affected black Americans more than any other single group
in the country.
That is the case here in Philadelphia, as well, where black patients are dying of Covid-19 at a rate 24 percent higher than white patients, according to City data. This is the result of many factors—more chronic health conditions, less access to good health care, more exposure from high-risk frontline jobs, and less early testing in the initial days in part because testing sites were not located in many predominantly black neighborhoods.
That’s where Dr. Ala Stanford stepped in. A pediatric surgeon and founder of R.E.A.L. Concierge Medicine Co., Stanford organized the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium, a volunteer army that has tested nearly 5,000 African Americans in the Philadelphia area in less than three weeks.
At a Citizen Virtual Town Hall next Wednesday, Stanford and Klasko will dissect the ways in which our healthcare system fails the people who make up half of Philly’s population—and the ways in which we can make changes that can literally save the lives of our neighbors.
In a powerful Inquirer op-ed this week, Stanford wrote this: “For a blink of the eye, there seemed to be an uproar. Then before you could open your eyes, the conversation was over—a foregone conclusion. Where was the support? Where were the resources for hard-hit communities? Where was the initiative to decrease all of the black bodies being put in refrigerator trucks and being buried in unmarked graves? Where was the increased testing, where was the empathy, where was the help? It was nonexistent.”
The differences in health outcomes, and even mortality rates, among black and white Philadelphians has been a harsh reality long before this pandemic hit—something Jefferson Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko has been raising the alarm about for several years.
Just one example: Philadelphia has among the highest life expectancy differentials between zip codes of any city in the country. A report a few years ago pointed out these stunning stats: In Society Hill and Old City, residents can expect to live to be 88; in Strawberry Mansion, they can hope to reach 68.
As Klasko told The Citizen few years ago, “If you’re a kid born today in Strawberry Mansion, your life expectancy is less than in Iraq or Syria…We’ve failed.” Klasko’s forthcoming book, Unhealthcare: A Manifesto for Health Assurance, looks at ways to solve the problems in healthcare that have contributed to the disparities.
At a Citizen Virtual Town Hall next Wednesday, Stanford and Klasko will dissect the issues surrounding healthcare in the African American community, the ways in which our system fails the people who make up half of Philly’s population—and the ways in which we can make changes that can literally save the lives of our neighbors.
The event, which is free and online, will be moderated by WURD host James Peterson, who will author The Citizen’s new series, The Color of Coronavirus, starting this month.
Also join The Citizen for other virtual conversations this month:
- June 17, 6 pm: State Treasurer Joe Torsella
- June 24, 6 pm: Penn Medicine Head of Innovation Roy Rosin
Wednesday, June 10, 6-7pm, free, wherever you are. RSVP here to receive an email with instructions to log in to Crowdcast for the event.Dr. Ala Stanford administers a Covid-19 test