Donating blood during COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Shortage of blood create emergency blood drive

Due to the restrictions from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and stay at home orders, one essential service has seen a significant decrease — blood donations.

On average, the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks (CBCO) needs 200 units of blood per day.

A local church, Mill Street Church of Christ, is helping to hit those numbers by hosting an emergency blood drive on Friday from 1-6 p.m. in its multi-purpose room.

Belinda Belk, CBCO field representative, said when the schools and businesses started shutting down, the hospitals automatically stopped scheduling non-essential surgeries.

“Although we couldn’t go to schools and businesses, we were able to ramp up our fixed sites in Springfield and Joplin, as well as, Bentonville, Ark., and Springdale, Ark.,” she said. “We asked people to come to us, and they did.

“Even though we saw a drop in blood donations, we were able to bring in 100-150 units per day to help support the essential surgeries still being performed.”

Belk said the point was to maintain the need at that time.

“But, now as things slowly change back, hospitals have scheduled some of those non-essential surgeries, but not all of the supporting companies that host blood drives are back open or at full staff,” Belk said. “This puts us in critical appeal, which is why we are desperately trying to gather the blood.

“When we are in a critical appeal, there is a reason. That means something has happened to make us lower on blood than we should be.”

The CBCO is asking people to donate for their local hospitals.

“That is always an important point,” Belk said. “We support more than 40 hospitals in the surrounding area, including Cassville Mercy. Our name is the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, and we support our community hospitals.”

All COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place during the blood drive.

“We must carry on,” Belk said. “We are impressed with the number of people who have responded to this unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Mill Street Church is one of the first places to open their doors for a community blood drive since COVID-19 hit.

“We are social distancing and adhering to all of the restrictions as we move forward,” Belk said. “We are limiting the number of volunteers and distancing the beds six feet from each other. We want people to feel comfortable and to know that we are safe guarding.”

The blood drive will accept walk-ins whenever they can be worked in, but people are urged to make an appointment.

People can visit https://donate.cbco.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/126482 to make appointments, or call 417-227-5006.

Cassville Mercy Hospital will also be hosting a blood drive on June 12.

For more information about when and where people can donate blood, people may visit https://donate.cbco.org/donor/schedules/zip.

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