CADILLAC — Not as many people need blood transfusions right now. The demand has dropped about 30%.
Is it because people aren't on the roads and getting into car accidents following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "stay home" executive order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
That's part of it, said Dr. Lee Ann Weitekamp, senior medical director for Versiti Michigan (fomerly Michigan Blood), which supplies Munson Cadillac Hospital with blood.
But another part is that people aren't having elective surgeries right now and hospitals are trying to conserve the supply they have.
But the supply needs to stay steady to help trauma patients and those who need non-elective surgeries.
"We're trying to stay very steady, matching the supply and demand, because we are truly in this for the long haul," Dr. Weitekamp said told the Cadillac News in a phone conversation Wednesday morning. "We know that we're only as good as our last massive trauma case."
COVID-19 patients are unlikely to need blood; those that have recovered from the disease can donate.
"They're asked not to donate until they're out of their quarantine period," Dr. Weitekamp said. "We also don't need to worry about transfusion transmitting COVID at this time. There is no science to suggest that COVID can be transmitted by blood transfusions, so that's not a concern."
Versiti is asking would-be blood donors to make appointments for next week.
Appointment spacing prevents congestion at the donor sites and accomplishes social distancing.
"If there should be several people wanting to come in at the same time, we ask them to wait in their car, and we'll give them a call when their appointment or their slot comes up," Dr. Weitekamp explained.
People who have a cough, fever or have recently traveled to a high-risk area should not donate blood so as not to spread COVID-19 to other donors or to Versiti workers.
Versiti will take the temperature of blood donors, then have donors wash their hands before checking in at the registration desk.
"From that point forward, everything is cleaned between every donor. So our screening booths, our donor chairs, our blood pressure cuffs, our thermometers, the tablets that they use to do their history, even the pens. We wash the pen between every donor," Dr. Weitekamp explained. "We're dealing with a healthy population. So we don't expect anything. But you always plan for taking care of our precious donors."
The next Versiti blood donation event is a mobile donation event. The blood bus will be parked at BC Pizza (6184 East M-55, Cadillac) on Friday, March 27, 2020 from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; however, appointments are nearly full. There will be a number of donation events in the first week of April. You can look them up on Verisiti's website, here: https://donate.michigan.versiti.org/donor/schedules/zip