BETHLEHEM, PA - Hospitals and blood banks are renewing their calls for donors. Elective surgeries that were suspended amid the COVID-19 outbreak are getting the green light to begin again; putting strain on the blood supply for essential non-COVID19 surgeries like organ transplants and those suffering from emergency trauma.
"Every healthcare organization was in a state of trying to figure out what are their next steps, how do we successfully integrate our patient population back in as we’re handling COVID patients," explains Director of Donor Recruitment and Development at Miller-Keystone Blood Center, Qiana Cressman, "So, it was probably a week and a half notice we received, our shipments have been cut by 50% in terms of what we ship to hospitals--so that was significant and that was over a two month time span. So it was hard for them as well as the hospitals, as well as for us."
Now, as hospitals resume elective surgeries, they’re also handling backlogs of patients who put off medical needs because of coronavirus concerns. That on top of new regulations have put added pressure on blood centers like Miller-Keystone, which is the sole supplier to 29 hospitals in our region.
"Obviously we have guidelines from the CDC and FDA that we adhere to with making sure we are wearing our protective personal equipment and cleaning as we need to," Cressman tells PBS39 News Tonight reporter, K.C. Lopez, "So it was really a big jump and now we have to re-frame our messaging. We’re trying to let donors know, please be ready for summer. Right now hospitals are preparing to rev up but we didn’t know when that day would come, then it came. Now we’re trying to get that message out to the community; we need you, please come back. There are surgeries, cancer patients, those who never stopped needing blood and now we’re resuming surgeries again."
But in the struggle, some good news for the blood center that has been forced to cancel walk-ins, alter hours, priorities and public information several times over the past few months. In our area, Miller-Keystone says it will resume blood collections at 5 of its satellite locations.
"We started at one satellite this month, I believe Quakertown, and by July first we’ll be opening up the others again," says Cressman.
Centers in Quakertown, Brodheadsville, Exton, Hazleton and Wind Gap will begin hosting regularly scheduled blood drives by July. Information on how you can donate is available at GiveaPint.org.