Importance of Donating Blood Across the U.S.

NEWBURGH – Across the nation, the month of January was recognized by many healthcare facilities as National Blood Donor Month and St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital (SLCH) was proud to house a Blood Bank within its Newburgh campus. The SLCH Blood Bank aims to inform both hospital employees and the community on the importance of blood donations by hosting blood drives in coordination with the New York Blood Center (NYBC) and providing information to those who participate.

The Blood Bank at SLCH transfuses an average of 200 units of blood per month, with a total of 2,528 transfusions last year alone. As human blood cannot be manufactured, patients often rely on the laboratory to keep a steady supply of blood products on hand. In 2018, SLCH hosted two blood drives in which close to 100 units of blood were collected, transported, and distributed to help patients in need.

Once collected, donor units are transported to the NYBC distribution facility in Long Island. From there, the blood is processed, separated into components, and tested for safety. After the unit has been cleared, it is distributed to hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. In disaster situations, the NYBC will coordinate with other blood centers across the nation to send blood to those in need.

Cancer patients, surgery patients, post-partum mothers, and trauma patients can use multiple units of blood at once, relying on the willingness of the community to donate and the teamwork of hospital staff. As a verified Level III Trauma Center, the SLCH team has encountered several instances where a single case can require over a dozen units of blood.

“The cooperation between the patient care team and laboratory staff is crucial to ensure the correct type and amount of blood is given,” stated Kathy Sheehan, Director of Emergency and Trauma Services. “Both teams work very well together, and we consider each other family.”

Daniel Maughan, Senior Vice President of Transformation, also expresses the importance of the SLCH Blood Bank and its relationship with the patient care team. “Whether it’s being prepared for a trauma, maternal hemorrhage (a leading cause of maternal mortality), or our communities need for life sustaining blood and blood products, SLCH ensures special teams of highly trained staff are always here, especially when time is of the essence.”

As the season changes, blood shortages will become more prevalent and can make it difficult to get blood products within the community. Donor restrictions vary by state and are constantly changing. “It is important for potential donors to find out the criteria for blood donation and not to self-defer,” added Leonard Genesee, Director of the SLCH Clinical Laboratory. “If you are taking prescribed medicine, ask your doctor if it is safe to donate.”

If you are interested in upcoming blood drives at SLCH or have any general questions, the SLCH Blood Bank can be reached at (845) 568-2399.

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