As the only provider of blood products to the tristate area, The University of Cincinnati’s Hoxworth Blood Center has still been able to meet local demands even though the American Red Cross has announced its first ever national blood crisis.
The Red Cross is now strictly allocating and rationing blood to hospitals in parts of the country where it provides blood.
According to the Red Cross, doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.
The Red Cross has experienced a 10 percent overall blood donation decline since March of 2020 and a 62 percent drop in college and high school blood drives due to the pandemic. Student donors accounted for 25 percent of all donors in 2019, but only 10 percent during the pandemic.
The supply at the Hoxworth Blood Center, while currently sufficient, is less than the preferred amount. “It really depends on type, and we are definitely below ideal levels for Type O-Positive, Type A-Positive, and Type A-Negative,” said Hoxworth Blood Center Associate Director of Public Relations Cara Nicolas. “Those are hovering about 50 or 60 percent of what we ideally would need for our hospitals.”
“Our hospitals at this point still have enough blood that they’re not having to do any triage or restrict any blood usage,” she said. “I know that the Red Cross yesterday released their information, and hospitals that are served by the American Red Cross are having to restrict the amount of blood that they’re using, but our hospitals that we serve in the tristate area are not at that point right now.”
In order to maximize efficiency of staffing during the omicron surge, Hoxworth has postponed all blood drives originally scheduled to be held on busses for the month of January.
That includes a drive at Highland District Hospital planned for Feb. 8.
The Greenfield Adena Medical Center is also experiencing supply challenges relating to staffing and the pandemic.
“We are monitoring our usage very closely and have a system-wide set of guidelines to conserve the blood we do have as best we can,” said Adena Greenfield Medical Center Laboratory Manager Karla Blair. “We typically don’t see high usage procedures here — open hearts, traumas — but we have had conversations with our providers about our ability to serve those with acute hemorrhages.”
The Greenfield facility typically has eight units of blood on the shelf at any given time, but in recent days has been down to half of that and back to normal levels.
According to Highland District Hospital Marketing Coordinator Ashlee Cheesbro, while hospital staff there are aware of the shortage, the hospital has a normal supply of blood and its services have not been impacted so far.
Nicolas said, “We know that everyone is really stressed out right now, but the need for blood is still going to continue just because there are a lot of people who can’t wait — people who are going through traumas or cancer treatment who need those products so we are really relying on the community right now to help out.”
Blood donation locations can be found at hoxworth.org.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.