Biden appoints Philly’s Dr. Ala Stanford to lead regional Health and Human Services office

Dr. Ala Stanford reflected on 2 years of the Black Doctors Consortium’s efforts to provide health care to undeserved Philadelphians on March 28, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Dr. Ala Stanford reflected on 2 years of the Black Doctors Consortium’s efforts to provide health care to undeserved Philadelphians on March 28, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

In October, Dr. Ala Stanford withdrew her name from consideration to be Philadelphia’s next health commissioner. Now, about six months later, she’s been named to an even more prominent position.

President Biden has appointed Stanford to lead the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Region 3 office, which covers all of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The appointment announcement highlighted Stanford’s work in founding the Black Doctors Consortium in Philadelphia, which made major strides in addressing racial disparities in health care since the start of the pandemic.

According to a statement from the White House, Stanford and the other appointees announced today are “consistent with the President’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, these regional appointees represent the diversity of America and the communities they serve.”

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A pediatric surgeon by trade, Stanford led the consortium in making house calls and operating COVID-19 testing sites. When the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived last year, the group ran vaccine clinics, including a 24-hour site at the Liacouras Center at Temple University.

They vaccinated thousands of people at that one site.

For a time, she was in the running to be Philadelphia’s health commissioner when the previous health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley resigned in May after he admitted to ordering the cremation and disposal of remains of some of the victims of the 1985 MOVE bombing in 2017, without notifying the victims’ family members.

She withdrew herself from consideration because she opened a new primary care and behavioral health clinic in North Philadelphia last October, the Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity. She said she was worried her work at the clinic might create conflicts of interest with a potential role as health commissioner.

She has won many local and national awards for her work at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.

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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania praised Biden’s decision to appoint Stanford. “As founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, she has saved lives & improved health outcomes across Philadelphia. I know she will lead with distinction as the Nation continues to recover,” Casey posted on Twitter.

The White House announcement today said the regional directors will help rebuild communities impacted by the pandemic, the economic recovery, and climate change.

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