Area hospitals continue to deal with pandemic-related blood shortages

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 1:36 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Hospitals in our region and around the country are suffering from a severe blood shortage, according to the American Red Cross, and some of that can be blamed on the pandemic.

Some hospitals are feeling the impact of blood shortages more than others. The University of Vermont Medical Center has a trauma center and performs transplants and other major surgeries, so it requires a greater amount of blood.

“Patients coming in a little bit more sick, maybe a little bit more injured than normal,” said Sarah Harm, UVMMC’s blood bank medical director. She says that now that more operations are taking place as they reopen from the pandemic, the blood supply is at a premium. “Makes us a little bit nervous because we are a trauma center, so there’s a certain expectation that we have blood available. We must have blood available.”

UVMMC’'s blood bank currently has a four to five-day supply on hand, but they usually have a five to seven-day supply. Harm says the supply is running around 50% for other hospitals that don’t have as many surgeries. Rutland Regional Medical Center officials say that 50% gets them by on most days and that they’ve chosen to cut their blood supply to give the extra to hospitals in higher demand, something the Red Cross suggested to hospitals across the country at the start of the pandemic.

“We really haven’t had too much of an impact. Know a lot of hospitals have had to cut a lot of elective surgeries. We’ve been very fortunate. So, we’re in a pretty good place,” said RRMC’s Sarah Mcmann.

The pandemic is the primary reason for the national shortage. When the coronavirus hit, thousands of blood drives had to be canceled. Most people we spoke with haven’t donated blood in the last year.

“Sadly I haven’t,” said Mark Andricola of Philadelphia.

“I’d be concerned with the lack of blood,” said Tatianna Bentosi of South Burlington. “Everyone that can donate, I think, should.”

Click here to find a location to donate blood near you.

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