HomeBerlin News‘The need is ongoing’: Red Cross continues to encourage blood donations

‘The need is ongoing’: Red Cross continues to encourage blood donations

Around March 10, when the COVID-19 pandemic began taking hold of the nation, the American Red Cross began experiencing a flood of blood drive cancellations. As schools and businesses shut down, more than 500 scheduled blood drives were cancelled in the Penn-Jersey region.

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A week later, the national Red Cross issued a statement about the blood shortage created by all of the cancellations. Alana Mauger, communications manager for Red Cross Blood Services for the Penn-Jersey region, said since then, the organization has experienced an influx in donations, but given the uncertainty around the pandemic, the Red Cross is continuing to ask people to donate if they’re able. 

“We’re back in a position where we are meeting patients’ needs, but the need is ongoing,” Mauger said.

Mauger emphasized that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, and there is no blood test to detect the disease. She also stressed there is currently no evidence that someone can contract a respiratory illness through donated blood. 

While blood is not needed to treat COVID-19 patients, it’s still critical when treating cancer patients, trauma victims and a variety of other conditions. Mauger said around a quarter of their supply goes to treating cancer patients.

The Penn-Jersey region needs to collect around 600 pints every day to keep the area well-supplied. Mauger said they haven’t been quite hitting that goal, but at the moment, they have an adequate supply of blood. She said hospitals are using less blood overall with many having postponed elective surgeries and other procedures in an effort to conserve their resources. 

While supplies are adequate for the moment, the organization’s goal is still to get back to that 600 pint mark. “Non-essential” businesses have proven a critical partner in that effort, Mauger said. 

The current restrictions in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have closed all “non-essential businesses.” However, these businesses do have permission to open for the purpose of a blood drive. Mauger said as their usual donation hot spots have closed, many “non-essential” businesses have offered up their space. She said community centers and local YMCAs have been especially ready and willing to help out. 

The organization is also currently taking added precautions to keep volunteers, staff and donors safe.

“We understand that people are certainly concerned about being in a public place,” Mauger said.

Anyone that arrives on site will have their temperature checked. If a staff member or donor’s temperature is elevated above 99.5 degrees, they are asked to leave. Mauger said this is the best way they can ensure that anyone donating is symptom free.

Donors will also be met with hand sanitizer at the door and will be repeatedly asked to use it throughout the donation process. They’ve also ramped up their disinfecting procedures and are cleaning common spaces several times throughout the day. 

Mauger said they’re trying to ensure as few people are in a space as possible at any given time. This means fewer beds, and all beds in a room will be kept at least six feet apart.

Because of the fewer beds, the Red Cross is staggering slots throughout the day. Mauger said they’re still aiming to collect the same amount of blood, however. This means longer drive times with a drive that may have taken six hours now extending to around eight. 

Mauger said they’re strongly encouraging interested donors to book an appointment. She said this ensures their ability to contain the number of people in a room. 

“It’s really important for people to schedule an appointment; we don’t want to turn anyone away,” Mauger said. 

Some of the local upcoming drives include: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 9 at the Community House of Moorestown; noon to 5 p.m. at Crossfit Hygge-Cherry Hill and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 21 at the Cherry Hill Skating Rink. Anyone interested in donating can schedule an appointment online ahead of time at redcrossblood.org.

Businesses interested in becoming a donation site can do so online or over the phone as well by visiting redcrossblood.org or by calling 1(800) – REDCROSS.


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