The Canadian Blood Services clinic in Surrey remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some changes to the way blood is donated.
Chairs and beds are positioned further apart to encourage “social distancing,” and cleaning schedules have been increased, according to David Patterson, the agency’s director of donor relations for the B.C./Yukon region.
“We are an essential service, and because of that we’re really excluded from that group-gatherings directive, from the public health agencies,” Patterson said Wednesday (March 25).
“Donors will find wellness screening at the clinic entrance, to make sure people are feeling well before they come into the clinic, and we have always told our donors to donate blood only if they’re feeling well in the first place,” he added.
Patterson said the clinic, located in Guildford at Unit C2-15285 101st Ave., has seen an increase in the number of donors since Canadian Blood Services issued a mid-March appeal for donors to keep their appointments, following a spike in cancellations nationally.
“In early March our numbers were down, however I think people have realized that donating blood is essential right now, so we have seen an increase in donations,” Patterson told the Now-Leader. “The other part of that is, we see this as a marathon, not a sprint. And at the Surrey clinic I know that we are very booked up this week, but as we look into next week and on into April we see our appointments open up again.”
The Surrey clinic, like others in the Canadian Blood Services network, is not accepting walk-in appointments during the pandemic, Patterson said.
“To help manage the people flow at our clinics, we’re making it mandatory for people to book an appointment before they come in,” he said. “The place to do that is at blood.ca, which has more information about how to make an appointment and where to go.”
Those who want to donate can also call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
Canadian Blood Services, a not-for-profit charitable organization, operates a national blood inventory where products are regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs.
The agency says donating blood in Canada continues to be safe.
“Our robust cleaning and infection-control practices protect all donors, staff and volunteers,” the CBS said in a news release on March 16. “All prospective donors are also carefully screened for any symptoms of illness, including very mild ones. This screening occurs during both appointment booking and upon arrival at the donor centre or event. Those with any symptoms are not allowed to donate blood and are instructed not to visit.”
Even during a pandemic, “car accidents still happen, trauma continues to happen, blood is still needed for cancer patients,” Patterson said.
“So it’s important for people to remember that if they try to book an appointment now, do it, we have 52 weeks in a year that we need blood.”