Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s response to COVID-19
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has seen a tremendous response from our community to our call for help amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Our empty shelves in March filled up quickly because of the big hearts of our friends and neighbors, but it’s important to remember we need blood donations consistently to meet the need of our patients.
We ask members of our community to become regular donors, giving blood multiple times each year to ensure we are able to meet local demand. Find out more about our eligibility requirements here.
Collecting blood is a marathon, not a sprint, and blood cannot be manufactured. Healthy donors must voluntarily contribute to our blood supply. In fact, blood donation is so critical to public health, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security highlighted the importance in guidance released at the beginning of the pandemic.
For detailed information on Texas’ response to the pandemic and plans to move forward, the Department of State Health Services has a comprehensive section on COVID-19.
Safety is in our blood
The Blood Center continues to take safety seriously. Appointments are encouraged, and masks are required. The coronavirus does not pose any risk to blood donors, either during the donation process or while attending organized blood drives.
Our staff members have implemented increased disinfection protocols to prevent the spread of disease at our centers.
Current processes include:
- Sanitizing hands and changing gloves between donors
- Replacing reusable items with one-time use items
- Enhanced cleaning protocols for all surfaces between each blood donor
- Implementing a daily wellness survey and checking staff temperatures when they report to work
- Requiring face coverings for donors and employees
- Collections staff have their temperatures checked before every shift.
Additionally, we have communicated best practices for protecting employee health and implemented employee workstation cleaning requirements.
The Blood Center has in-house doctors and trained medical staff who will continue to refine our processes to ensure the safety of our blood donors. We appreciate your patience during this process.
Help us save lives
Every week, thousands of patients need blood to survive. Many cancer patients need platelets while they’re undergoing chemotherapy. Others with blood diseases need transfusions regularly, and blood also is vital during surgeries and trauma patients. Members of our community must donate consistently to maintain the blood supply.
Many companies are operating virtually, making blood drives difficult to plan. This year, thousands of blood drives were canceled amid the pandemic, affecting local donations. We urge community organizations and business leaders to host blood drives to provide donors a convenient location to donate their blood. For businesses operating remotely, we have a Virtual Blood Drive program, that allows you to save lives while practicing social distancing.
All blood donations are tested for the COVID-19 antibody, and donors who test positive will be invited to return to give convalescent plasma. Antibodies present in the plasma of those who have recovered from the virus may help patients with severe symptoms fight the infection. Since September, there’s been a 101% increase in convalescent plasma shipments to hospitals and the need continues to grow.
Those who are feeling healthy and well should check giveblood.org for an available appointment. Blood donations are needed regularly and throughout the “Stay Home, Work Safe” period.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is the sole provider of blood and blood components 24/7 to more than 170 hospitals and health care facilities in a 26-county Texas Gulf Coast region. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a nonprofit organization and is accredited by the Food and Drug Administration. For more information or to help save lives, visit giveblood.org.