Local Healthcare Workers Concerned as Blood Supply Drops Again to Critical Levels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2021
Contact: Kara LeBlanc, firstname.lastname@example.org, 401.787.8686
LOCAL HEALTHCARE WORKERS CONCERNED AS BLOOD SUPPLY DROPS AGAIN TO CRITICAL LEVELS
Region has 1–2-day supply with potential for holidays, weather and the Omicron COVID-19 variant to cause further instability in donations.
Providence – Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC) announced the region’s third blood emergency this year, with blood supply at only a 1-2 day inventory, well below the ideal inventory of seven days. The concern is further exacerbated by seasonal decreases in donations during the holidays as people travel more and become busier, as well as weather and COVID-19 variants potentially further decreasing turnout.
Phyllis A. Dennery, MD, FAAP, Pediatrician-in-Chief and Medical Director of Hasbro Children’s Hospital says of the shortages, “During this unprecedented time, adequate blood supply has been critically low. Blood is essential in allowing us to provide the most advanced pediatric medical care to our young patients. Hasbro has the only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Rhode Island and is staffed around the clock. If we all do our part by donating blood, we will make a real difference to ensure that we are ready for any emergency.”
Blood centers across the country suffering from shortages that have never rebounded to safe levels for the community throughout the past 19 months of the pandemic. RIBC cites factors contributing to this alarming trend:
- Donor fatigue from constant urgent/critical messages and a decrease in first time donors stepping up to help.
- Working from home is the new normal, preventing many organizations from being able to host successful blood drives.
- Almost 30 percent of donors who book appointments do not show for up for them. The center cannot replace those precious lost donations when trying to fill the appointments.
- Fear of COVID-19 infections and new variants may be keeping donors away, despite the center continuing COVID safety measures and ensuring donors that COVID-19 cannot be contracted through blood donation or transfusion.
- More donors calling to cancel appointments due to temporary COVID-19 quarantines.
- Many high schools and colleges, which accounted for close to 20% of RIBC’s blood donations, have not returned to hosting blood drives.
- Donor confusion over eligibility around vaccination status. In most cases, there is no deferral period to donate blood after receiving a vaccine as long as you are feeling well enough to give.
- Currently, there is no national surplus. Prior to the pandemic, a national surplus of blood products would be used to mitigate regional shortages.
Hospitals and patients must be able to rely upon a steady flow of volunteer donors, but new variants are causing uncertainty at the worst time of the year, as we head into the winter and holiday season.
“Donating blood is safe and easy, and there is no substitute that healthcare workers can use to care for patients. The best gift you can give to our hospitals and the patients they care for is some peace of mind that they will have the lifesaving blood they need,” says Beau Tompkins, Executive Director of Rhode Island Blood Center. “In a normal year, winter is a difficult time to maintain the blood supply. Unpredictable weather, cold and flu season, school breaks, family and holiday travel all contribute to making blood donations less of a priority. Normally, October and November are a time where we build our inventory in anticipation of these challenges, but this year is especially dire without a solid inventory pre-holiday and the news of a new variant.”
Donating blood only takes one hour. We are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. RIBC staff are vaccinated. As always, people are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. People can donate blood regardless of vaccination status. Many people think they cannot donate when they actually can. Questions about eligibility can be emailed to RIBC’s medical team at email@example.com.
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RHODE ISLAND BLOOD CENTER (RIBC) was founded in 1979 as a nonprofit community blood center. For over 35 years, RIBC has been the primary supplier of blood and blood products to patients being cared for in hospitals throughout Rhode Island and in neighboring states. Our mission is to help save lives by ensuring a safe and plentiful blood supply to the patients and hospitals we serve. RIBC is also part of the National Marrow Donor Program and collects stem cells for transplant at its Providence location. RIBC provides therapeutic treatments for patients in local hospitals. Our state-of-the-art laboratory performs donor testing for over 400,000 donations per year. RIBC is also involved in various local and national research programs to improve all aspects of the blood supply. RIBC is a division of New York Blood Center, Inc. (a family of operating Divisions known as New York Blood Center Enterprises). For more information, visit ribc.org.