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BBD partners with Beebe Healthcare, Bayhealth as chronic shortages threaten healthcare system and potential second wave looms



On Monday, Nov. 16, local hospitals call for blood donations amid pandemic

Beebe Healthcare and Bayhealth have joined forces with Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) to increase blood donations at donor centers by asking college and high school students and all donors to make appointments at the Dover Donor Center and the Salisbury Donor Center.

In 2019, BBD was able to rely on 7,000 donors alone from high school and college blood drives that have been suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That has left the Blood Bank of Delmarva scrambling to make up for a shortfall that has caused mobile donations to be at just 43% of pre-pandemic levels.

To make up for the shortfall, BBD has added hours every other Sunday, from 8 a.m. to noon, at its Dover Donor Center in Kent County and Christiana Donor Center in New Castle County. The Salisbury Donor Center also has hours every other Saturday for the convenience of donors.

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Delmarva’s healthcare system requires 350 donations each day to treat patients ranging from trauma victims to newborn babies and their mothers to cancer patients. Prior to the pandemic, donors could stop by community blood drives at convenient locations in Kent and Sussex counties, but nearly all high schools, colleges, offices and other community groups have had to cancel their blood drives due to COVID-19.

On Monday, Beebe Healthcare and Bayhealth joined BBD for a press conference held at Beebe Healthcare’s Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus to call upon Delmarva students and all residents for more donations at this critical time.

“As we enter the season of giving, please keep in mind the critical shortage of blood being experienced right now in our communities but also nationwide,” said David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare. “We all can make a difference by taking the time to donate. At Beebe, we organized three blood drives this summer, but your help is still needed during these unprecedented times. It is simple – donating blood saves lives.”

“Now more than ever we are relying on our community to donate blood,” said Kelly Abbrescia, DO, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Bayhealth. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for the healthcare community, including a decrease in blood donations. To ensure we have the resources in place to care for our patients, we need a sufficient blood supply available. We are asking everyone who can donate blood to do so to ensure we can provide life-saving care to our community members.” 

Blood Bank of Delmarva officials outlined some of the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Account Manager Ralph Groves, who coordinates all blood drives in Kent and Sussex counties, said high school and college blood drives have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. They alone account for 25% of BBD’s daily collections.

“We have run just one high school blood drive since the pandemic started,” said Groves, a Rehoboth Beach resident. “This is catastrophic, not only for immediate donations but for the future. High School donors have their first donation in school while being supported by their friends. It is that experience that leads them to be a lifetime blood donor. We are losing that generation right here, right now with COVID unless we do something different. It’s a crisis not just here in Delmarva but nationally.

“A large percentage of the donating public is 50 years and older and we are not replacing donors as they age out with younger donors. We need to change what is on the horizon and appeal to all age groups that donating is imperative,” Groves added. “We’re talking about big schools like Cape Henlopen High School, Sussex Central, Sussex Tech, Dover High and Caesar Rodney high schools. These are schools with enrolments over 1,000, where we can easily count on 100 donors giving at one of their drives. They’re good students who want to give back. And, so, we’re asking students here in Sussex County as well as Kent County to please make an appointment to give either in our Dover Donor Center or just over the Maryland border in our Salisbury Donor Center. We’ve seen some students venture in and I can assure you that they had a great experience and donated blood in a clean, sanitized and safe environment. This is important because we can’t use the mobile blood drive buses right now. There’s no way to socially distance people on those vehicles. So, we need help. We hope to see students and more donors as a hole come into our donor centers.”

“BBD has been faced with several incidents since the start of the COVID pandemic that have resulted in our inability to fill hospital orders due to injury, trauma, unexpected surgeries and other medical related events,” said BBD Manager Product Services Megan Johnson, who oversees fulfillment of hospital blood product orders. “BBD receives multiple phone calls daily from hospitals in our service area requesting blood and blood products for these types of events and one thing is consistent with our messaging, ‘I do not have enough inventory on the shelf to fill your entire order.’ Our hospitals and the patients we serve, including Beebe and Bayhealth, depend on us to have lifesaving products available when the call to action is answered. BBD cannot be successful in our intent and ability to service our hospital customers effectively and efficiently without your continued support and partnership. This is where you the community is needed to help BBD through this continuing struggle. Thank you.”


Caption: From left to right: Ralph Groves, Blood Bank of Delmarva Account Manager; Rachele Allison, Blood Bank of Delmarva Donor Services Technical Operations Director; David A. Tam, MD, MBA, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare; Megan Johnson, Blood Bank of Delmarva Manager Product Services; and Tony Prado, Communications Specialist, Blood Bank of Delmarva.