MOUNT VERNON — Everything else in the world seems a bit unsure at the moment, but there’s one thing that is certain — there is, and will be, a need for blood donations.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, hundreds of blood drives were canceled, causing a severe blood shortage,” said Rodney Wilson, Communications Manager with the Red Cross. “Since then, blood donations have stabilized and we are currently meeting hospital requests for blood.”
But as more hospitals continue to open back up to non-emergency procedures, the need for blood will continue to rise, Wilson added. As the need continues to rise, the Red Cross will need to increase blood donations to keep up with the need.
Becky Glass, a Red Cross donor recruitment account manager for Morrow and Knox counties, said that the summer months are a difficult time when it comes to setting up blood drives since there are fewer sites with no school in session. Add in the fact that the Red Cross now has to follow additional precautions like spacing out beds to meet social distancing guidelines, the number of available sites have gone down.
“Even with the reduced sites, there has been good donor turn out,” Glass said, adding that this is a very encouraging sign. And recently, they have had really good community drives. The blood drive held Thursday at the Knox County Fairgrounds, according to Glass, went over their goal.
“The community has stepped up as well,” Glass said, adding that they are glad to see the community support.
And that’s even with all the new procedures the Red Cross has put in place. Appointments are required, donors have their temperature taken, masks are to be worn and the beds are sanitized and allowed to dry in between each donor. Glass did say that while appointments are required, they understand some people can’t make an appointment and they will work with anyone who wants to donate. Appointments, she said, make it easier to plan since social distancing and the other safety measures that are in place make donating blood take a bit longer.
“It’s a smooth process,” Glass said about adding the new procedures. But even before these procedures were added, Glass said the process was “pretty safe to begin with” and now they’re just being as safe as possible.
The only challenging aspect so far is finding a place that will accommodate the area needed to spread out the beds. Other than that Glass mentioned there were no real difficulties besides getting used to extra safety procedures.
During the school year schools makeup about 20 percent of blood donations. With schools not sure of how the year will go, the Red Cross is looking to replace those blood drives with other locations like businesses, churches or community centers.
In some way or another, Glass said that she will work with the different schools to hold blood drives. She mentioned that at every school there are a couple of students who are still very much engaged with her to host blood drives.
“We’re still looking to have blood drives in one way or another,” she said. “The situation is very fluid.”
“It’s important to note that there is no known end date to this pandemic, and the need for blood continues regardless of season, holiday, weather or pandemic,” Wilson offered. “Patients are still in the hospital needing blood for surgeries, cancer treatments, emergency care and more.”
“The need is always there, now more than ever,” Glass said. “It’s safe and healthy to donate… I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all of our loyal donors.”
The Red Cross is also providing free antibody testing for everyone who donates. Glass said this can help people know if they have come into contact with the virus.
The next blood drive in Mount Vernon will be on Aug. 4 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre. Every person who donates gets entered into a raffle to win a trip for four to Cedar Point.
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