Published by Kirby Winn on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in News Releases
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) is experiencing a high rate of cancelled blood drives due to school closings and businesses changing operating hours and policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. MVRBC – provider of all blood and blood components to 115 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country – is working to make up this shortfall in collections as much as possible. Donors may schedule appointments for donation by calling (800) 747-5401, scheduling online via www.bloodcenter.org, or by using the Blood Center’s mobile app.
“Patients who require a blood transfusion cannot wait,” said Amanda Hess, Director, Donor and Public Relations. “We are working to prevent a blood shortage over the course of the pandemic by asking donors to schedule now or sometime in the next eight weeks. Blood collection events should not be considered social gatherings,” added Hess. “We are providing support for acute patient care.”
In response to losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blood Center has expanded hours at many of its Donor Centers and is scheduling mobile blood drives to replace blood drives that have been cancelled. To find an opportunity to donate, please call MVRBC at (563) 359-5401 or (800) 747-5401 or schedule online at www.bloodcenter.org or via the Blood Center’s mobile app (info / download: www.bloodcenter.org/app).
- Blood donation centers and mobile blood drives are safe, hygienic environments that attract healthy individuals who wish to support the blood supply.
- The Blood Center spaces appointments appropriately to avoid having large groups of donors at any one time. Prior to donation, donors are asked screened for symptoms of illness (body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level all are checked, and the donor completes a pre-donation Donor History Questionnaire).
- Between donations, staff wipe down chairs and surfaces to maintain a safe, hygienic environment.
Healthy individuals are needed now and in the next few months to donate blood for patients.
- Blood donation is safe! Blood drives and donor centers are safe environments where staff and donors are screened to be sure they are healthy and well and have not been exposed to the virus to be present. They are not mass gatherings for the purpose of social distancing.
- It’s the blood on the shelf from regular donors that saves lives. Blood is a critical resource for patients and the blood center must maintain 24/7 operations during this Pandemic to ensure life-saving treatment can continue.
- Blood has a short shelf life and must be constantly replenished. Red blood cells must be transfused within 42 days, while platelets and thawed plasma must be transfused within 5 days. We must rely on volunteers to continue to donate blood and to continue to host blood drives in our communities in order ensure hospitals and patients have what they need.
- Please make and keep appointments and drive commitments to ensure an adequate supply. We are working to prevent blood shortages locally.
- 60% of the blood supply comes from mobile blood drive events.
- Blood drives and donor centers should be exempt from restrictions placed on social gatherings for social distancing measures because it is an essential healthcare service that requires face-to-face interaction to perform collection procedures.
- Individuals present to donate at staggered times and are processed separately through a safe and controlled environment. Collection staff have a capacity of processing only one or two donors per hour, so volumes of people are limited.
- Blood Center Staff are following protocol to ensure health and safety are maintained.
- Staff and volunteers should stay home if they are not feeling well or if they have been exposed to someone who is being tested or has tested positive for COVID-19.
- The blood supply is safe! There is no evidence this virus can be transmitted by a transfusion, nor has there been with the two related viruses, SARS-1 and MERS-CoV that have caused epidemics since 2000.
- We have implemented our Disaster Plan and are following recommendations from local, state and federal health agencies to keep staff and visitors safe. Blood collection locations have always been regulated for health and safety and we are increasing communication with our teams as well as resources and instructions for cleaning to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
What we are doing to keep staff, volunteers and donors safe…
- We are following recommendations as applicable from local, state and federal health agencies and are getting updates daily. Blood donation events are essential healthcare services that should be considered exempt from public orders to eliminate gathers over certain sizes.
- We have implemented our own disaster response plan and are keeping staff up to date with what we know. We are sending communication regularly to staff and volunteers to keep them informed.
- Signs are being posted at all facilities and collection events asking people not to present to blood drives, to centers or to work if they are not feeling well or if they have been exposed to someone who is being tested for COVID-19. We are asking these screening questions when scheduling donors over the phone as well.
- We have reiterated our existing protocol for keeping environments safe and healthy for workers and donors and are expanding upon existing cleaning and health hygiene practices.
- Donor Services staff are already required to change gloves between donors.
- Hand sanitizer must be available at all stations at blood collection events.
- Staff at collection events and all facilities are being asked to frequently clean high-touch surfaces.
- Donor Beds must be at least 3-6 feet apart.
- Donors are encouraged to use EarlyQ when possible the day of donation and to make and keep appointments to moderate the flow of donors through collection operations.
About Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC), based in Davenport, Iowa, serves 115 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country.The Blood Center’s service region extends from southwestern Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri and from Danville, Illinois to Chariton, Iowa. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org and visit the Blood Center’s social media channels: www.facebook.com/MVRBC, www.twitter.com/willyougive, www.youtube.com/MVRBC, and www.instagram.com/willyougive/.