Beaumont: Critical blood shortage threatens patient care

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News
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Beaumont Health is pleading for blood donations, saying that a nationwide blood supply shortage is threatening patient care. 

The shortage is critical for patients having surgeries, as well as for trauma patients, and many being treated for cancer or chronic health conditions, officials said. 

The eight-hospital health system, Michigan's largest, has scheduled blood drives for this week and early next week in Grosse Pointe, Troy and Trenton. It is also scheduling donations by appointment. 

Beaumont Health is pleading for blood donations, saying a nationwide blood supply is threatening patient care.

It's part of a severe nationwide shortage caused by a decrease in donations during the pandemic combined with the resumption of surgeries that were delayed due to COVID-19, officials said.

Spectrum Health, a 14-hospital West Michigan health system based in Grand Rapids, is also trying to raise awareness of the need for blood donations. 

"Blood supply throughout the state of Michigan and across the nation has been low for months. As we head into the summer season, a typically lower donation time, we want to remind the community of the importance of blood donations," the health system said in a statement to The Detroit News. 

"Although at this time our supply is satisfactory at Spectrum Health, we need to raise awareness for the ongoing need for blood donations."

Many potential donors were sheltering in place during the pandemic and didn't want to venture out to donate blood. At the same time,blood drives were cancelled or scaled down due to social distancing and the need to limit the number of people in one location, said Carolyn Wilson, executive vice president and chief operating officer with Beaumont Health.

Blood drives that did occur accommodated far fewer donors than usual, Wilson said. That has left blood in short supply just as people are resuming medical procedures, and getting out and about, she said.  

Asked how many days' blood supply the health system has on hand, Wilson said it's hard to estimate because it depends on the blood type as well as the demand for blood. 

"We have a few days blood supply overall, and we would like more — we need more," Wilson said. "This is not a Beaumont issue — this is a local, regional and quite frankly a national issue.

"It's becoming more problematic over the last few weeks," she said. "Delayed care has impacted the need for treatment, like in cancer cases or heart cases — heart cases often require blood. 

"And as we get to summer, and the vaccine rates are up, people are moving around more. So we're seeing more trauma cases with motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents, and unfortunately trauma cases often require significant blood utilization as well," Wilson added. 

Wilson said the need for donations gives everyone the chance to be a health care hero.

"Our health care heroes have been giving again and again and again to support, and we are asking everyone of our employees and physicians to please donate," she said. " I would love and ask all of your readers to donate as well."  

An American Red Cross technician cleans the arm of blood donor in Bloomfield Township on March 18, 2020. Beaumont Health said it needs more blood donations as the nation experiences a blood shortage caused in part by the pandemic.

Other health systems such as Henry Ford Health, Ascension and Trinity didn't respond immediately to requests for comment.

The donation process usually takes one hour, including registration, a brief medical screening and blood collection.

Donors must show a photo ID such as a driver’s license. Masks are required throughout the donation process.

Donors need to wait 48 hours to donate blood after receiving the first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN

Upcoming blood drives:

Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe

Tuesday, June 15, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Connelly Auditorium

Beaumont Hospital, Troy

Wednesday, June 16, 2 to 8 p.m.

Classrooms 1-4

Beaumont Hospital, Wayne

Friday, June 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Second floor conference room

Beaumont Hospital, Trenton

Monday, June 28, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Beaumont Surgery Center – Trenton

Conference room 220

Appointments can be also be made by phone at 866-MI-BLOOD. Walk-ins are welcome if the schedule permits. For more information, visit versiti.org.

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