COMMUNITY BLOOD CENTER AND AREA HOSPITALS LAUNCH INITIATIVE TO INCREASE BLOOD DONATIONS AMID PANDEMIC
Chronic shortages threaten healthcare system amidst surge of local COVID-19 cases
KANSAS CITY — Area hospitals and healthcare systems including Children’s Mercy, North Kansas City Hospital, Saint Luke’s Health System, and the University of Kansas Health System are joining forces with Community Blood Center (CBC) to increase local blood donations. Temporary blood shortages are not uncommon during summer and winter holidays each year, but the pandemic has created a chronic shortage across the country that shows no sign of improving. This reality is particularly dangerous given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic’s trajectory over the course of this winter.
The Greater Kansas City area’s healthcare system requires over 4,000 donations each week to treat local hospital patients. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of the area’s blood donations came from community drives. Since March, thousands of blood drives were forced to cancel and the local blood supply has yet to recover. While blood donors are strongly encouraged to make appointments at one of CBC’s seven donor centers, donations have still not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and the local blood supply remains well below what is needed by hospitals and patients in our area.
“The entire foundation of blood donation has changed. The convenience factor of donating while at work, school, or after a religious service is almost completely gone. Instead, we have to rely on people taking the extra step of proactively seeking out a place to donate. So far, that isn’t happening at the level we need,” said Kim Peck, Senior Executive Director of Community Blood Center. “Under normal circumstances, announcing a blood emergency would create a short-term increase in blood donations, but this will not solve this particularly difficult shortage long-term. This is an incredibly challenging time for our communities.”
“Blood donations are critical when it comes to caring for kids with medical needs or performing life-saving procedures at Children’s Mercy,” said Paul Kempinski, President and CEO, Children’s Mercy. “A blood supply shortage could have significant impact on important services throughout the hospital including surgery, trauma care, neonatal care, cancer treatment and emergency services. We ask that the community rally around this initiative to donate blood, so we can continue to improve the health and well-being of children throughout this region.”
“As a physician, I’ve seen firsthand how blood transfusions save lives,” said Stephen L. Reintjes Sr., MD, President & CEO of North Kansas City Hospital and Meritas Health. “It’s important for everyone to ask their friends and family to donate blood to help replenish our community’s supply so we can continue to care for patients who need transfusions.”
“As we manage increasing levels of COVID-19 in our communities, the need for life-saving blood donations is more important than ever,” said Kristy Gibson, Director of Laboratory Services at Saint Luke’s Health System. “A reliable and adequate blood supply is critical to support the day-to-day medical and surgical procedures we provide, and we encourage everyone who is eligible to please consider donating.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of daily life. Hospitals across the country have been impacted in so many ways,” said Steve Stites, MD, Executive VP Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, The University of Kansas Health System. “One very important, but under-publicized impact is the decrease in blood donation. The University of Kansas Health System is happy to partner with Community Blood Center and our fellow Kansas City hospitals to raise awareness about the critical need for blood donations.”
Factors contributing to the shortage include:
- High schools and colleges normally account for 20,000 donations each school year and we’re missing nearly all of these first time donors this fall.
- Remote learning is impacting both parents and youth donations as families try to balance work and school.
- Office workers are not returning at high rates.
- Utility, hospital and government workers are not donating at the same frequency as they were pre-COVID-19.
How community members can help:
To make an appointment to donate blood, visit here.
CBC also needs more partners to step up and help host drives in large venues. If you have a space available and are able to host a blood drive, please sign up here.
For information on the additional precautions being taken to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19, visit here.
- Community Blood Center: Chelsey Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org | 816.645.4323
- Children’s Mercy: Lisa Augustine | email@example.com | 816.809.5155
- North Kansas City Hospital: Libby Hastert | Libby.Hastert@nkch.org | 816.518.0425
- Saint Luke’s Hospital: Cory Owens | firstname.lastname@example.org | 816-599-9449
- The University of Kansas Health System: Jill Chadwick | email@example.com | 913.223.3974