Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Coronavirus fears slow CRH blood donations – doc

Published:Friday | May 29, 2020 | 12:29 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Fears emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused concerns about blood donations to spiral at Cornwall Regional, the hospital’s senior medical officer has said.

Dr Derrick Harvey made the observation during an interview with The Gleaner on Wednesday following reports earlier this week that the University Hospital of the West Indies had reported a shortage in blood donations for the same reason.

There have been several reports of violence or threats associated with the stigma of COVID-19 infection.

Up to Wednesday, Jamaica recorded 569 infections and nine deaths. Almost half of infected persons have recovered.

“COVID-19 has had an impact on blood donations, because persons are staying at home. Before this, you would have free movement, but because of the regulations for COVID-19, everything has been curtailed and persons who would come out and donate are staying at home,” said Harvey.

“In general, persons are just fearful of getting affected with COVID-19, and I suppose the general public would be fearful of using the hospital unless they absolutely need to.”

The senior medical officer said that Cornwall Regional Hospital’s caseload demands a consistent supply of blood, citing obstetric and trauma patients among the most needy.

“The demand outweighs the resources,” said Harvey. “We’ve been managing to cope here, but when you cover maternal cases, trauma cases and surgeries, you will find that blood donations will always be needed.”

However, Western Regional Health Authority Regional Director Errol Greene said he has not received any reports of significant blood shortages at western Jamaica medical facilities.

“I haven’t had any adverse reports ... , though I’m not saying we are adequately stocked. Since COVID-19, people are afraid to donate, but it’s all about overcoming the fear,” said Greene.

In April, director of the Blood Bank, Dr Alisha Tucker, said that residents living in COVID-19 quarantine zones across Jamaica would be barred from donating blood until the expiration of the state-imposed lockdowns.

Bull Bay, St Andrew; Corn Piece, Clarendon; three communities in St Mary; and the entire parish of St Catherine have been placed under quarantine to curb a rash of coronavirus cases.

Lockdowns are not currently effect in any community or parish.

Last October, the Blood Bank called for more donations even as it revealed that roughly half of all women who came to donate blood at that time were turned away because of anaemia or other medical conditions. Approximately 25 per cent of all male donors were accepted.