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'Distance Saves Lives' blood drive seeks to amp up donations amid coronavirus

Local businesses team up with MaineHealth and the American Red Cross to create blood drive event in Portland on Wednesdays for the next 10 weeks.

PORTLAND, Maine — While hospitals and health care workers are dealing with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) while fighting COIVD-19, they are also seeing blood donation shortages due to the pandemic. 

The need for blood is constant and donating blood is regarded as an essential service. However, the  American Red Cross has reported that more than 9,000 blood drives across the country have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO's of local businesses and other organizations have teamed up with MaineHealth and the American Red Cross and created the "Distance Saves Lives" blood drive.

This 10-week blood drive event will begin on April 1. It will be held at the Portland Elks Lodge, 1945 Congress Street on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is an ambitious initiative, but necessary to ensure a sustained supply of blood.

Strict social distancing protocols adopted by the Red Cross have been implemented so people can give blood safely with minimal risk of increasing the spread of COVID-19.

MaineHealth’s commitment, support and resources will help us bridge the gap of units lost during this time,” Maria Devlin, CEO of the Red Cross Northern New England Region, said in a press release. “The scope of this plan and the speed with which it came together is nothing less than amazing. We are grateful to MaineHealth and all the business and community leaders who have stepped forward to support this effort. It is a testament to the spirit of community that lives so strongly here in Maine."

“It is important, not only to our caregivers and patients, but to our entire region, that we not let our supplies of donated blood fall to critical levels,” Dr. Dora Mills, MD, chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth said. Dr. Mills is leading the blood drive effort on behalf of MaineHealth. 

The American Cross said, “As important as the work we are doing to help our communities get through this COVID-19 outbreak is, this is another significant priority that deserves our attention and the attention of everyone in the community who is able to donate blood. Together, we’ll get through this pandemic."

In order to keep interactions spaced out, allowing the proper distance between participants, the Red Cross is asking for donors to call to make an appointment. 

Other precautions, including temperature checks and the use of protective gear by those taking blood, will also be employed. To make an appointment, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) or go to www.redcrossblood.org.

Maine business leaders are enlisting the support and participation of their employees- With WEX at the helm, current companies participating in the promotion of the blood drive include: Bowdoin College, Dead River Company, Geiger, Hannaford Supermarkets, Maine Beer Company, Masthead Maine, MEMIC, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Sea Dogs, Unum, The VIA Agency and Wyman’s. Other companies expressing support are: IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., L.L. Bean, Luke’s Lobster, Pine State Trading Co., Stonewall Kitchen Company, and Thomas Moser Handmade American Furniture.

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