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Blood, sweat and tears

April 10, 2020

When we hear about healthcare workers going above and beyond during this COVID-19 pandemic, we know it’s true here at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH). Recently, you might have seen NCH staff, physicians and community members even giving the gift of their own blood.

Why would a respiratory illness cause a great need for blood?

With the cancellation of everyday activities and the order to stay home, schools, colleges, churches and community groups are forced to postpone their planned blood drives. The blood banks count on those drives to continually replace their supply. According to numbers estimated by Versiti, this COVID-19 cycle could potentially lead to 130,000 fewer blood donations.

Every day more than 10,000 patients depend on the generosity of blood donors to survive.

As healthcare workers and those who provide business and operational support to our healthcare teams and sites, we know the need for donated blood is always great. But to take time out to give blood while you are already giving more than 100 percent elevates you to superhero status!

Jennifer Okray, NCH Strategic Marketing Manager, drove from her home in the far northern suburbs on a day she could have worked from home, to give her own blood.

“I feel it’s important to do your part for your community and donating blood is something that takes little time and truly saves lives,” she says. “It’s particularly needed now, when those who are normally able to donate are unable to leave their homes to do so. I am proud to work at such a community -focused organization as NCH and grateful for the many opportunities it offers to help those in need.”

On April 1 and 7, NCH held appropriately “socially distant” blood drives to help fill some of the gap left by cancelled events. The blood drives were by appointment only to better manage the safety of the donors and the workers from Versiti. More than 60 employees and community members stepped up to donate. Since each donation can help three patients, those donors provided blood for more than 150 patients.

Victoria Hozack, MLS, Supervisor-Blood Bank/Immunology, says, “We coordinated the drive with COVID-19 concerns top of mind. While we always practice safety in our drives, we doubled our efforts by ensuring the donors were properly socially distant and phlebotomists drawing the blood had appropriate PPE.”

Only about 5 percent of age-eligible people in the U.S. donate blood annually. It doesn’t cost money or much time and one donation can save up to three lives.

“Stay tuned for the next NCH/Versiti blood drive in early summer,” adds Hozack.