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Blood Bank of Delmarva partners with Beebe Healthcare, Bayhealth

Delaware News Desk
Beebe Healthcare and Bayhealth joined with Blood Bank of Delmarva to increase blood donations at donor centers by asking college and high school students, and all donors, to make appointments at the Dover and Salisbury Donor Centers. From left: Ralph Groves, Blood Bank of Delmarva account manager; Rachele Allison, Blood Bank of Delmarva Donor Services technical operations director; David A. Tam, president and CEO, Beebe Healthcare; Megan Johnson, Blood Bank of Delmarva manager product services; and Tony Prado, communications specialist, Blood Bank of Delmarva.

Beebe Healthcare and Bayhealth joined with Blood Bank of Delmarva to increase blood donations at donor centers by asking college and high school students, and all donors, to make appointments at the Dover and Salisbury Donor Centers.

In 2019, BBD was able to rely on 7,000 donors from high school and college blood drives, which have been suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left the Blood Bank of Delmarva scrambling to make up for a shortfall that has left mobile donations at 43% of pre-pandemic levels.

To make up for the shortfall, BBD has added hours every other Sunday, from 8 a.m. to noon, in Kent County at the Dover Donor Center, 221 Saulsbury Road; in New Castle County at the Christiana Donor Center, 100 Hygeia Drive, Newark; and at the Salisbury Donor Center, 1309 Mt. Hermon Road, Salisbury, Maryland. 

Delmarva’s health care system requires 350 donations each day to treat patients, from trauma victims to newborn babies and their mothers to cancer patients. Prior to the pandemic, donors could stop by community blood drives at convenient locations in Kent and Sussex counties, but nearly all high schools, colleges, offices and other community groups have had to cancel their blood drives due to COVID-19.

Beebe Healthcare and Bayhealth joined BBD for a press conference Nov. 16 at Beebe Healthcare’s Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus to call upon Delmarva students and all residents for more donations.

Blood Bank of Delmarva officials outlined some of the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Account Manager Ralph Groves, who coordinates all blood drives in Kent and Sussex counties, said high school and college blood drives have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. They alone account for 25% of BBD’s daily collections.

“We have run just one high school blood drive since the pandemic started,” said Groves, a Rehoboth Beach resident. “This is catastrophic, not only for immediate donations but for the future. High school donors have their first donation in school while being supported by their friends. It is that experience that leads them to be a lifetime blood donor. We are losing that generation right here, right now with COVID, unless we do something different. It’s a crisis not just here in Delmarva, but nationally.”

“A large percentage of the donating public is 50 years and older and we are not replacing donors as they age out with younger donors,” Groves continued. “We need to change what is on the horizon and appeal to all age groups that donating is imperative. We’re talking about big schools like Cape Henlopen, Sussex Central, Sussex Tech, Dover and Caesar Rodney high schools. These are schools with enrolments over 1,000, where we can easily count on 100 donors giving at one of their drives. They’re good students who want to give back. And, so, we’re asking students here in Sussex County, as well as Kent County, to please make an appointment to give either in our Dover Donor Center, or just over the Maryland border in our Salisbury Donor Center. We’ve seen some students venture in, and I can assure you that they had a great experience and donated blood in a clean, sanitized and safe environment. This is important, because we can’t use the mobile blood drive buses right now. There’s no way to socially distance people on those vehicles. So, we need help. We hope to see students and more donors as a whole come into our donor centers.”

“BBD has been faced with several incidents since the start of the COVID pandemic that have resulted in our inability to fill hospital orders due to injury, trauma, unexpected surgeries and other medical related events,” said BBD Manager Product Services Megan Johnson, who oversees fulfillment of hospital blood product orders. “BBD receives multiple phone calls daily from hospitals in our service area requesting blood and blood products for these types of events, and one thing is consistent with our messaging: ‘I do not have enough inventory on the shelf to fill your entire order.’ Our hospitals and the patients we serve, including Beebe and Bayhealth, depend on us to have lifesaving products available when the call to action is answered. BBD cannot be successful in our intent and ability to service our hospital customers effectively and efficiently without your continued support and partnership. This is where you, the community, is needed to help BBD through this continuing struggle. Thank you.”

For more, visit delmarvablood.org, beebehealthcare.org and bayhealth.org.