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Philadelphia Lawmakers Secure $13.8M for Health Equity


Tuesday, May 17, 2022   

The gaps in the U.S. health care system were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with racial health inequities laid bare.

On Monday, Philadelphia lawmakers announced $13.8 million in state funding to improve public-health outcomes for all city residents.

In May 2020, data collected by Drexel University showed that Black residents made up 45% of known COVID cases, while white residents made up 15% of cases.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes - D-Philadelphia - said while residents struggled with these public health disparities, community health organizations stepped up to provide resources like testing and vaccines directly to those who needed them most.

"The other thing that was revealed was this incredible commitment by people all across Pennsylvania," said Hughes. "But let's start right here in North Philadelphia, who decided to rise up and say, 'I'm not going to watch the problem, I'm going to make a difference in the problem.'"

Five million dollars of the funding will go toward creating mobile health clinics, along with $3 million in health equity grants and $2 million in grants to address mental health and trauma.

State leaders also announced checks for community health organizations, including $2.8 million for the Pennsylvania School-Based Health Alliance for behavioral health services and $1 million for the Black Doctors Consortium.

Tracy Wood, executive director of the consortium, said people's ZIP codes should not determine their public health.

"We should have access to going to the doctors, getting a physical every six months," said Wood. "Over our past two years of service, administering over 100,000 COVID-19 tests and vaccines, we found access was a major barrier to quality health care."

The Black Doctors Consortium hosted "pop-up" testing and vaccine clinics in Philadelphia neighborhoods with high infection rates and low vaccination rates. In October, the consortium opened a clinic offering primary-care and behavioral-health services in North Philadelphia.

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