By Samaria Bailey

Philadelphia Tribune Correspondent Reprinted with Permission from the May 7, 2020, Edition

(Photos provided by Masjidullah)

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium offered free coronavirus testing at Masjidullah on Tues., May 5, 2020, marking the first time the group has organized an effort at an Islamic house of worship.

  Since the Consortium began in April, they have primarily organized in church parking lots because of the access to space and people.

  “We are here at the masjid during Ramadan and it is so meaningful to see people who are attune to the community’s needs and health,” said Rev. Marshall Mitchell, Consortium organizer and Senior Pastor of Salem Baptist Church. 

  “We’ve really been doing parking lots and not churches. We’ve been chasing the disease. Sometimes people think we’re actually chasing church relationships – Enon or Salem or Mt. Carmel. But we’re not doing that all. 

“We’re chasing the disease and what we’re able to do is identify meaningful partners in the community who have people, who have a parking lot where we can do the logistical work.”

  Mitchell estimated the doctors and nurses tested 300 people in Masjidullah’s parking lot and along the sidewalk for walkups, which similar to other sites was filled as soon as the volunteers arrived. 

  “We wanted to do this here at Masjidullah because we are aware this is a hotspot. There are a lot of cases in this area,” said Shirley Jones Shakur, infectious disease expert, advanced practice RN, and nursing professor.  

“It’s really important for us to do this as a public service because public health really matters and when we test massively those with symptoms and those without, what we are doing is getting a vast picture of what the real public health is. 

“When we get cases of people that are sick in hospitals, we are getting a polaroid shot of two weeks. When we get the number that died, we get a polaroid picture of three weeks, but it doesn’t tell us what the mass community looks like.”

  Shakur connected Masjidullah with the Consortium after speaking with one of her colleagues, Dr. Lynda Thomas-Mabine, who is a volunteer with the group. Just one day after requesting the Consortium come to Masjidullah, Shakur said Dr. Mabine “made it happen.”

Masjidullah member Imam Mikal Shabazz noted that the effort came at a symbolic time as the Islamic community observes the holy month of Ramadan.

  “We … feel blessed by almighty God to have such important endeavors as this occurring, especially during the month of Ramadan, because during this month we try to do extra good deeds to get many blessings,” said Imam Shabazz. 

“The Prophet told us there are many ways to do good and this indeed is a great opportunity for us. Our people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and it’s spreading in our community. Within our community, there’s been a lack of testing. 

“It’s so important to commend Dr. Stanford and her team, because she recognized this deficiency. Not only did she recognize it, but she took steps to correct it and do something about it.”

  Rahim Abdur, Masjidullah member, said he took the test as a precautionary measure. “I was a little nervous. But it was short and sweet. I’m glad I took a chance because so many people out here have it,” he said.  “It’s better to be safe than not to be.”

  Rahima Z. Abdullah, another Masjidullah member who got tested, agreed, reiterating that testing is important to keep the pandemic from getting worse.

  “As a participant, I think it’s very necessary,” she said. “If you think you just have allergies, if you’re sneezing a lot, if you have asthma and your lungs have been filing up because of the asthma, I think it’s very important to take the test. 

“In order for us to get back to the normalcy, we need to get tested and not be afraid. It’s free, we need to take advantage of the opportunity to get tested for the safeguard of our families.”   

STATEMENT from NICETOWN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, PRESIDENT AND CEO ZAKARIYYA ABDUR-RAHMAN:

On Tues., May 5, 2020, the Black Doctor’s COVID-19 Consortium brought their on-site testing to the Masjidullah Center for Human Excellence in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia.  

Led by the phenomenal Dr. Ala Stanford, the Consortium of Black Doctors organized and took action to address the lack of access to Covid-19 testing in the black community.  Dr. Delana Wardlaw works with Dr. Stanford as a member of the Consortium and is also a key Board member of the Nicetown Community Development Corporation, headed by its President & CEO Zakariyya Abdur Rahman. 

The theme of partnership and working together continued as Zakariyya and fellow Masjidullah Business Officers Saleem Abdul Lateef and Khalil Ghani coordinated the on-site testing set up on the beautiful Masjidullah campus.  

Dr. Stanford’s team is making a measurable impact by providing access to COVID-19 testing in the African American community.  At various locations in African American neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the doctors, nurses, health care professionals and volunteers with the Consortium serve hundreds per site and “to date have tested thousands of our people!” 

 “We at Masjidullah are thankful to Allahu AzzaWajell for positioning us to be the ‘go to’ Community Providers in our own neighborhood.  This is our responsibility and our roles to fulfill – nobody else’s!” said Bro. Zakariyya. 

“May Allah Bless and Protect all who are out there on the front lines working tirelessly to take care of our people,” he added.  

For more information about Dr. Stanford and the Black Doctor’s COVID-19 Consortium, go to www.realconciergemedicine.com.  For more information about the Masjidullah Center For Human Excellence, go to www.masjidullah.org

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PROVIDED BY NURSE SHIRLEY JONES SHAKUR:

ABOUT BLACK DOCTORS COVID-19 CONSORTIUM: African Americans are being diagnosed at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups and are dying from coronavirus at a higher rate than other groups. “Dr. Delana Wardlaw, the Tip of the Spear!”

To address that need, the Black Doctors COVID19 Consortium  (BDCC) was born and has built a mobile COVID0-19 testing operation with the goal to provide a testing alternative that is BARRIER FREE to test for coronavirus disease in “our hardest-hit areas in Philadelphia.”   

To support these efforts, a GoFundMe page, https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-BDCC/campaign/gallery/0,  has been established where all funds will go to cover the following expenses for 1-year:

1. Van Transportation

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

3. Educational Materials

4. Testing Supplies

5.  Staff support

6. PPE for those being tested, and 

7. Supporting a sustainable program to improve health outcomes.

BDCC Statement: “We are testing for the virus with an FDA approved system of nasal swabs, NOT serum antibody testing. Our mission is to provide COVID 19 testing, advocacy and education for African Americans on the coronavirus disease.”

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