Carter BloodCare is one of three Texas blood centers that have joined a newly formed blood reserve aimed at preparing for emergency situations in which blood needs are high.
The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps, or BERC, includes seven blood centers from five states. The centers will work on a rotating on-call schedule, collecting extra blood units, according to Linda Goelzer with Carter BloodCare.
“So whenever Carter BloodCare is on duty, which is this next week along with a blood center in Wisconsin, our goal is to collect 50 -- that’s five-zero -- extra units of blood. Primarily type O, if possible, and be able to set that aside in case something were to happen this week,” Goelzer said. “The importance of that we hope there would not be a time when all parts of the country might be affected at once, but the purpose of this readiness corps is to ensure that we have a supply of blood that is designated for mass trauma at any given time.”
Goezler said the pandemic has impacted blood supply and donations with many businesses, schools and places of worship transitioning to virtual options.
“A good majority of the blood we collected in the community was coming from blood drives that were hosted at some of these locations,” she said. “The activity has picked up a lot more, but it’s still not even close to what it needs to be. The blood supply has remained so low and so unstable, we tell folks if you donate blood today, it’s probably going to be aiming to a patient in about 48 hours.”
Stephen Love, president and CEO of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said hospitals in the area were aware of the low blood supply. He said while no hospitals in North Texas have had to cancel procedures due to the blood supply, hospitals were “trying to be very careful in how we use the blood.”
Love added Sunday’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers showed a slight decrease, with 3,468 total patients.
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“I’d say we’ve kind of plateaued for the moment in total around 3,500,” Love said. “It’s like we’re trying to flatten out, but we’re not quite there yet.”
This week, he said health leaders will be looking for data related to the possible impact from Labor Day.
“And of course, we got the state fair coming. We’ve had football games, both high school and college. We just want to be very cautious on what’s going to happen in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
As hospitals and blood centers continue to navigate the pandemic, Goelzer said they were doing their best to prepare the best they can even amid uncertainty.
“We just want to remind our community that blood only comes from one place and that’s from generous people who give for someone else. It’s essential and can’t be manufactured,” she said. “It’s kind of a reminder to all of us that being prepared means being prepared with your blood supply as well.”
Other centers that are partnering with BERC are Texas' We Are Blood and South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, Oklahoma Blood Institute, Houchin Community Blood Bank in California, The Community Blood Center in Wisconsin, and Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank. The network is expected to expand.
Organizations that would like to be a BERC blood-drive host should email BookABloodDrive@carterbloodcare.org and put "BERC" in the subject line.