Lee County has lost about 900 units of blood that patients need due to blood drive cancellations. There are blood drives set Sunday, March 22, 2020 and during the coming week.
Fort Myers News-Press
Before Sunday, Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health, had never donated blood.
As media, staff and Paul Hiltz, president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System watched, Orelbys Lara, a Lee Health phlebotomy tech, inserted the blood-donor needle into Antonucci’s arm.
Antonucci, himself a doctor, didn’t even flinch.
“Piece of cake,” he said after. “Easy. The staff is incredible. And they even gave me a snack.”
Antonucci and Hiltz were the first two blood donors Sunday in a green Lee Health donation bus on the second day of a special blood donor drive at the American Red Cross, South Florida Region, Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter office at 7051 Cypress Terrace. The two-day event was to help the hospital system recoup some of the blood supply depressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The system is down about 900 to 1,000 units, said Susie Nystrom, director of Blood Center Services at Lee Health.
“Businesses are closed and schools and colleges are closed,” she said. “Those were our big draws.”
She said that some things have been done at the hospital system to alleviate the depressed blood supply. One of those things happens Monday morning when elective surgeries are put on hold.
“That’s a step for conservation,” Nystrom said. “The blood supply will now be directed solely to non-scheduled areas such as trauma, medical and oncology.”
The blood donor event Saturday and Sunday was designed to help pump up the slack supply chain.
“We had about 60-61 Saturday,” said Jeremy Puckett, Blood Center supervisor. “We capped it at 50 when we started giving out numbers and we had about 10 before that.”
Sunday, it was the same, about 50 slots were available for first-come, first-drawn donors.
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