July 30, 2020
Community health — it matters. In today’s terms, COVID-19 is Exhibit A. UPMC Hamot recognizes and assumes its responsibility to the community it was created to serve. In turn, Hamot Health Foundation is deeply committed to understanding community health and raising awareness of the challenges before us. So much so that community health is one of only four mission pillars attached to our name: 1) Community Health, 2) Continuing Education, 3) Cutting-Edge Research, and 4) Centers of Excellence.
The Community Blood Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and Western New York is experiencing a critical blood shortage. In normal times, 37% of the general population is eligible to donate blood. Historically, only 5% of this eligible population donates.
As a result, the Community Blood Bank is consistently stretched to meet the needs of the area’s blood supply. The situation has been seriously compounded during COVID-19 times. In fact, the number of blood donors has dropped from 5% to a mere 1 – 1.2%.
The impact of fewer blood drives hosted by local businesses has been a heavy hitter. As we suddenly find ourselves in an era that promotes working remotely, scores of employees are no longer heading into the office. With employees less clustered and more scattered geographically, blood drives at places of business are much less feasible. While working from home keeps our community safer from COVID-19, the implications for an already struggling blood supply are staggering.
There are other reasons for diminishing blood donations, including an aging donor base and generational differences that disrupt its rebuilding. Add to that a fear among citizens of leaving their homes for nonessential purposes. The collective outcome of fewer donors is less blood available. Consequently, the blood supply in Erie County has been at a critical level since early May.
To overcome this dilemma, the Community Blood Bank is pleading for our support. Executive Director Deanna Renaud explains.
“Never has there been a more important time to give blood. While the pandemic may have put normal life on pause, the need for blood never pauses. Emergencies continue. Cancer patients still need to replace platelets. UPMC Hamot still relies on the Community Blood Bank to provide life-saving blood for patients. This is the mission to which we are committed, and yet we cannot supply blood that has not been donated.”
The Community Blood Bank is not only calling for an emergency response to the immediate blood shortage, they also need a more sustained and normalized response to stabilize future readiness.
Concerned individuals and organizations can host a blood drive in their neighborhood or place of business. Set up a blood drive to honor a loved one. Above all, talk it up and get the word out!
This community self-identifies as a caring community. If the time comes, will the blood needed to save the life of your family member, friend, or neighbor be there? To save your own life?
The answer is within our reach and up to all of us, starting with you and me.
To learn more about how to help, call 814-456-4206, or visit the Community Blood Bank website.