LifeStream Blood Bank, the exclusive provider of blood products and services to all Coachella Valley-area hospitals, continues to partner with generous local residents to meet the challenges related to voluntary blood donation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to school, church and business closings resulting from COVID-19, dozens of LifeStream mobile blood drives scheduled during March, April and May were canceled. Those drives represented an estimated 5,000 pints of blood suddenly not available for hospital patients requiring cancer treatments and surgeries; for accident, burn and trauma victims; and for newborn babies.
How to make up the deficit?
“Our community has been magnificent in answering the call and reaching out to assist those who need the gift of blood,” said Rick Axelrod, MD, LifeStream’s president, CEO and medical director. “While grateful for this response and urging the community keep in mind the need in the months ahead, we pair that message with information on the many precautions we’re taking to maximize donor safety at all our locations, including our La Quinta and Rancho Mirage centers.”
Near the outset of the COVID-19 health crisis, and as “stay-in-place” orders became commonplace, national health leaders emphatically and repeatedly emphasized that blood donation was not subject to such mandates. Blood donation is considered an essential medical function, not a casual social gathering.
LifeStream has been proactive in taking extra steps to keep donors safe; its policies and procedures continue to evolve along with each new COVID-19-related mandate and trend.
• All staff and donors wear face coverings.
• All staff and visitors submit to temperature checks before entering the donor waiting area. Staff members with any sign of fever are immediately sent home; potential donors with fever symptoms are deferred from donating and recommended to return home.
• Adherence to 6-foot social distancing guidelines. Chairs in donor waiting areas and, where necessary, donor beds have been re-arranged to comply. Also, to limit the number of people present at any one time, appointments to donate blood are required at all donor centers.
• Staff to follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols that include wearing face coverings, gloves and personal protective gear; wiping down donor-touched areas often and after every collection; using new collection sets for every donation/collection; and arm scrubbing for 30 seconds.
“We are and will continue to take every precaution to ensure donor safety,” reiterated Dr. Axelrod.
The immediate future holds many uncertainties. The continuing need for blood isn’t one of them.
“Remember, we’re unable to collect considerable amounts of blood over the coming months due to cancellation of so many mobile drives,” Dr. Axelrod said. “But treatments requiring blood transfusions won’t stop. So we’re asking our community to set appointments to give blood in two, three or four weeks hence, to ensure we can continue to supply hospitals with this life-saving gift.”
LifeStream’s La Quinta Donor Center, 79-215 Corporate Centre Drive, is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily except Wednesday, when hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Rancho Mirage center, 42390 Bob Hope Drive, Ste. 1B, (near Hobby Lobby in the Rancho Las Palmas Shopping Center) is open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
To set an appointment at the La Quinta or Rancho Mirage centers, call 1-800-879-4484 or visit LStream.org.
LifeStream also is closely monitoring the possibility of partnering with local hospitals to begin collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors.
“We’ve all got our fingers crossed that collecting convalescent plasma will be a bright light in treating those afflicted with the virus,” Dr. Axelrod said. “We look forward to more positive developments on that front and to working with our hospital partners to provide a critical component in winning the fight against this pandemic.”
LifeStream supplies blood products and services to more than 80 Southern California hospitals in six counties. For more information, call 800-879-4484 or visit LStream.org.