Leaders from HSHS Illinois, Memorial Health System, SIU Medicine, Springfield Clinic and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health are partnering with the Central Illinois Community Blood Center (CICBC) to ask donors to step forward in support of the region’s blood supply. A joint news conference was held today to help raise awareness of the importance of donating blood to ensure an adequate supply for patients in central Illinois.
Officials stressed that giving blood at a donor center or mobile blood drive is a safe activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and is essential for meeting health care needs in our region.
“Having blood on hand is crucial for patient care,” said Dr. Patrick Hemmer, HSHS Illinois director of laboratory services and president of St. John’s Hospital medical staff. “Blood may be used in surgery, cancer treatments, heart procedures, traumas, births and to treat anemia, among other things. We encourage the community to donate blood and seek care when necessary.”
Since the middle of May, local hospitals have been providing additional patient care services that were previously restricted, such as joint replacement and other elective surgeries, and have an ongoing need for blood components for trauma, urgent surgery and other critical care services.
“We can never predict when a trauma case will occur, so it’s crucial that hospitals always have an adequate supply of blood available,” said Dr. John Sutyak, associate professor of surgery at SIU School of Medicine and director for the Southern Illinois Trauma Center with Memorial Medical Center. This is an issue that affects everyone – no matter how healthy you are, you could be the victim of an accident and find yourself needing blood unexpectedly.”
“Providing for our region’s blood supply in the COVID-19 pandemic is especially difficult leading up to Fourth of July weekend, but the need will continue all summer long,” said Jim Watts, CICBC manager of donor relations.
“We have been hard hit by blood drive cancellations,” said Watts, who has tallied losses of more than 150 blood drives and at least 3,000 donations during the pandemic. “It’s up to us to keep blood ‘on the shelves’ for hospitals, pandemic or no pandemic. But we have great support in the communities we serve and that gives me confidence donors will come through.”
“Blood donation from volunteer donors is absolutely crucial in the care of some of our traumatically injured patients,” said Jared Bernard, MD, FACS, of Springfield Clinic’s trauma surgery department. “There are times when donor blood is utilized to help stabilize critically injured patients, enabling their survival until they can progress to the next stages in the management of their life-threatening injuries. Thank you, donors, for your selfless sacrifice.”
Gail O’Neill, Sangamon County Public Health Director, stressed the blood center is taking the appropriate steps to provide a safe, hygienic environment at donor centers and blood drives.
“The Central Illinois Community Blood Center has taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus,” O’Neill said. “While we can’t guarantee complete safety from the virus, I believe they are going above and beyond to prevent the spread. I feel confident in their abilities to maintain a safe and clean environment.”
Precautions being taken include:
All staff and donors are now required to wear a face covering while inside donor centers or participating in a mobile blood drive. Paper masks will be provided for those who arrive without their own mask or facial covering.
Donors are now required to make appointments for donation. To maintain social distancing and appropriate donor flow, walk-ins will only be accepted when an appointment slot is available.
Potential donors who are experiencing any symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, or who have recently had exposure to the virus, are asked to refrain from donation.
Prior to donation, donors are 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).
When possible, donors are asked to complete the donor history questionnaire online on the same day as their donation (see www.bloodcenter.org/EarlyQ)
Staff have added space between chairs in screening areas and in the post-donation refreshment area. Between donations, staff wipe down chairs and surfaces to maintain a safe, hygienic environment.
Donors may schedule an appointment to give blood at the CICBC Donor Center in Springfield or at a nearby mobile blood drive by calling (217) 753-1530, scheduling online at www.bloodcenter.org, or via the IMPACT mobile app (www.bloodcenter.org/app).
As an added thank you for donating, all presenting donors will receive a voucher for a $10 gift card and triple points (through July 5) to spend in the blood center’s donor loyalty store. The voucher for the $10 gift card is redeemable online or by phone for the donor’s choice of Amazon.com, Target, Subway, Burger King, iTunes/App Store, Applebee’s, Olive Garden or Domino’s. Under the donor loyalty program, donors earn points with each donation that can be redeemed in the blood center’s online loyalty store for exclusive donor gifts such as apparel, drinkware and phone accessories.