JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) The affects of COVID-19 is also causing some havoc for blood centers across the nation, as donors and blood drives begin to dropout to help with social distancing.
Marsh Regional Blood Center officials said they are down half the drives they were planning for, over the next two weeks.
While practicing social distancing is important, blood centers in the Tri-Cities want donors to keep in mind that the best way to prepare for a pandemic like the one we are having right now, is to make sure centers have adequate blood supply.
A nearly empty room the result of a pandemic, at Marsh Regional Blood Center in Johnson City.
“Without those folks, we can’t meet the needs of the hospitals we serve to save patient’s lives,” Don Campbell said.
Director of Marsh Regional Blood Center, Don Campbell, said the number of blood drives in the Tri-Cities has dropped drastically.
“In our area, we’ve lost five to seven high schools already. So that’s the bulk of our donations,” Campbell said.
He is encouraging for people to host blood drives.
At this point, any blood type will be accepted.
“Maybe have a mobile come to your environment or even just to meet you in the area that is kind of safe, away from everything,” Campbell said. “You may not donate but if you could fifty people to come, just think how many people you get to impact during that time.”
He said it is not critical just yet, but as more people continue to cancel drives and refrain from donating, it will likely continue to get worse.
“Today, we were able to meet all the needs of the hospitals that we have. We didn’t cause anybody to have any issues with products wise. What we’re hoping to do today, though is to get a jump on what will happen a week from now,” Campbell explained.
However, before donors arrive to give, they advised to take note that there have been some changes to procedures due to COVID-19.
He said, “Normally, we’re going to give you a mini-physical every time you donate. We’re going to check your temperature, your pulse, your blood pressure, your iron level. We’re just giong to begin with your temperature first now.”
A normal physical will follow.
The centers have also added gloves on top of the sponge you are asked to squeeze when giving blood.
“You’re helping your friends, your neighbors, your family. Someone you may not know, someone you might know,” Campbell said.
In order to help those who want to donate, all Marsh Regional Blood Center locations have extended their hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. These are the locations for the centers: 111 W. Stone Drive, Suite 300, Kingsport; 2428 Knob Creek Road, Johnson City; and 1996 W. State St., Bristol.
Donors are asked to call ahead of time.
Everyone who makes a blood donation will receive a $10 Food City gift card.
Requirements to give blood:
Donors must be at least 17 years old
Weigh at least 110 pounds or more
Be in good health
People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or who are taking antibiotics may not donate.
Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving blood.
For more information about blood donation, or to schedule a blood drive, please call 423-408-7500, 423-652-0014 or 276-679-4669 or click here.