opinion Newport Rhode Island

Blood collection agencies across the country, Rhode Island included, are suffering from what the Red Cross calls “the worst blood shortage in a decade.” This weekend’s snowstorm has only made matters worse.

Weather events are a nightmare for blood collection agencies, with blood centers closed for storms, blood drives non-existent, and donors slow to re-schedule appointments, with many, as the Rhode Island Blood Center suggests, even failing to show up for appointments.

The Rhode Island Blood Center’s six locations were closed, and blood drives canceled today (January 29)

Consider that blood center officials feel comfortable when blood supplies are at five, six, seven days … but now are at one day.

It’s even more critical for platelets, that blood component so critical in blood clotting, and most beneficial to those battling leukemia, other types of cancer, accident victims, and transplant patients. Platelets have a shelf life of five days. So, you can imagine the crisis when a pandemic severely impacts your blood supply, and a major snowstorm brings collection to a halt.

The ramifications are easy to understand – hospitals forced to defer patients from surgeries.

The Rhode Island Blood Center has also announced that beginning in February it is adjusting days and hours of its donor centers.

“Since the pandemic, it has been extremely challenging for blood centers everywhere to collect enough blood for the hospitals and patients they serve. To mitigate this, RIBC needs to do the following:

  • Hold more mobile blood drives. Mobile drives historically account for approximately 50% of the state’s blood supply and are our primary source of new and youth donors. More sponsors are beginning to bring back staff and students, so we need to hold mobile blood drives again at those organizations.
  • Reduce hours of some centers and increase hours at others. Using data from the last 12 plus months, we increased center appointments on the days and hours that book most frequently.
  • Staff centers and drives appropriately.The staffing challenges that have plagued organizations everywhere have impacted blood centers, too, especially in the area of phlebotomists. We cannot increase donation opportunities anywhere without enough staff. Rest assured, we have done a great job of retaining our existing phlebotomy staff through the pandemic and have a strong plan in place to recruit new phlebotomists! Please help spread the word that we are hiring by sharing this page: ribc.org/phlebotomy.”

The Aquidneck Island Blood Center is located at 688 Aquidneck Ave., Middletown. Its hours, as listed on the RIBC website are: Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 7:30 p.m.; and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those wishing to schedule a donation, should call first to reserve their time at 401-453-8383. 

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