Under the backdrop of a global pandemic, hospitals are in need of our help more than ever.
In addition to coronavirus concerns, hospitals remained filled with patients needing emergency life-saving care and one of the supplies they desperately need is blood.
Southampton (Cumberland) Township Parks and Rec partnered with the Central PA Blood Bank Saturday to provide aid, hosting the Joyce “Josie” Lynch Memorial Blood Drive at the Cleversburg Community Center.
The event, which was planned months in advance, successfully tackled social distancing concerns and received 19 quality blood donations, which equals 57 lives saved. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for the blood bank, with resources running low as the population practices self quarantining in an attempt to wait out the virus.
“The need for blood doesn’t go away. There is no substitution for blood,” said Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank Coordinator Kacy Englebrook. “We aren’t having enough donors coming out or enough blood drives going, so our supply levels aren’t good and that is nationwide. Normally, when we go into shortages, we call another blood bank and say ‘Can we buy some blood from you to help us out?,’ but you can’t do that if all the blood banks are hurting. Nationwide it is a critical issue.”
While coronavirus is not transfused through blood, the blood bank is taking extra precaution to help donors social distance, such as canceling all Bloodmobiles, to help stop the virus’ spread.
“It is a concern for people,” Englebrook stated. “We are wiping everything down and being extra careful in our clean up and our safety between donors. We are just trying to practice social distancing at our blood drives. We are taking smaller groups and are not having any more than 10 people in a room at a time.”
The local public certainly showed they are willing to help. Every appointment slot was filled Saturday, and the blood bank had to turn away numerous interested donors due to current coronavirus protocol.
Scott Mack, Southampton (Cumberland) Township Supervisor and blood donor, thanked everyone that came out and donated blood.
“People are feeling very frustrated,” Mack said Monday. “There’s not much most people can do. My wife and I thought, ‘What can we do to help our fellow citizens,’ so we both signed up and donated blood because of that.
“Anytime there is an incident like this, people rally behind their communities. That’s what we need and people are doing it. That’s proven by the fact there were a lot of people that came out that couldn’t donate. They were turning people away at 9 a.m. because they were already booked up.”
According to Englebrook, the best way to donate blood in the immediate future is to call the Central PA Blood Bank at 1-800-771-0059, and schedule an appointment.
“We are trying to encourage people to call us first and find the location closest to them and schedule an appointment that way,” she said. “They can find out where they can go as far as blood drives and donor centers -- fixed sites and are open more frequently and have longer hours.”
The Joyce “Josie” Lynch Memorial Blood Drive was initially started in July of 2010 by Lynch’s family with the support of Southampton (Cumberland) Parks and Rec Director Shelly Varner and the late Tom Ginnick after Lynch had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
According to her daughter Angie Lynch, Joyce had Type A- blood, which only 6 percent of the population had, and she donated nearly every 2 months for many, many years. Joyce fought a valiant battle for nearly two years before she passed in 2012.
“She was so very upset that she could no longer give, so the family partnered with the Central PA Blood Bank to host a blood drive in her honor,” Angie said. “Blood donation is incredibly important right now as so many drives have been canceled and the blood supply is so critically low. Our family is grateful to everyone who came out on Saturday and donated. Mom, or Josie as she was known by so many, would be smiling.”