MaineHealth - Caitlin Loveitt
American Red Cross - Mary Brant
Portland, Maine – The CEOs of area businesses and other organizations have partnered with MaineHealth and the American Red Cross to create the “Distance Saves Lives” blood drive, an event to be held in Portland on Wednesdays for the next 10 weeks. This effort is one of many ways that Maine businesses and their employees are supporting the direct caregivers who are caring for patients amidst COVID-19.
The blood drive will follow new, strict social distancing protocols adopted by the Red Cross so that people can give blood safely with minimal risk of increasing the spread of COVID-19 in the community. The drive will take place Wednesdays at the Portland Elks Lodge, 1945 Congress St., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting on April 1.
“As the coronavirus pandemic has grown across our country, we have seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate; as of today more than 9,000 have been canceled,” said Maria Devlin, CEO of the Red Cross Northern New England Region. “The need for blood is constant and the Red Cross is grateful to the Maine business leaders for working with us on this unique endeavor.”
Those wishing to give blood will need to do so by appointment so that interactions can be spaced out and participants can maintain the appropriate distance from one another as recommended by the CDC. 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.
Donating blood is regarded as an essential service and blood drives are exempt from closure and shelter-in-place orders from state and local officials. MaineHealth is supporting the blood drive by providing volunteer clinical staff to assist with the collection.
“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,” said Dora Mills, MD, chief health improvement officer, who is leading this effort on behalf of MaineHealth. “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”.
This is an ambitious initiative, but necessary. To ensure a sustained supply of blood, 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, L.L. Bean, 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., Luke’s Lobster, Pine State Trading Co., Stonewall Kitchen Company, and Thomas Moser Handmade American Furniture.
“MaineHealth’s commitment, support and resources will help us bridge the gap of units lost during this time,” said Devlin. “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.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 22,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland.