Officials: Local blood supply good despite national shortage

Courtesy Photo Brittany O’Rourke, phlebotomist for Versiti Blood Center of Michigan, takes a donation from Madison Weihl, travel registered nurse at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena on Thursday.

ALPENA — In the midst of a nationwide blood shortage, Northeast Michigan residents aren’t having issues getting blood, officials say.

“We are having no issues providing product for our patients,” Mariflor Ramirez, lab manager at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena, said. “Here in Alpena we always try to keep our inventory sufficient for our demand.”

Last week, the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis amid rising cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to a press release. In the press release, the Red Cross said the shortage was its worst in more than a decade.

While there are no blood shortages locally, MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena is still staying prepared. The hospital held a blood drive Thursday, hosted in partnership with Versiti Blood Center of Michigan. Versiti supplies 85 hospitals in Michigan, including in Alpena and Ramirez said the hospital has a good rapport with the company.

Ramirez said Thursday’s blood drive was successful with no slots left unfilled.

Ramirez said because the Alpena hospital is in a rural area, she stays in constant contact with the hospital’s blood provider.

“We meet every month to go over the blood we need and how to handle the blood we have,” Ramirez said. “We have been doing a great job and have wasted zero product in the last three months. We are being good stewards of the blood we have.”

Dawn Kaiser, area vice-president for Versiti, said her company has had some struggles with inventory, but has been holding drives to make up for any shortages. The 85 hospitals to which Versiti provides blood amount to more than half of the hospitals in the state, according to Kaiser.

“We have been struggling with inventory. We were seeing some shortages, like the Red Cross, but we have really been fighting hard to hold drives and get donations,” Kaiser said. “We supply the most blood to Michigan and the donations we collect stay here in Michigan.”

Kaiser said upcoming blood drives can be found at versiti.org/ways-to-give/our-communities/michigan.

Though it supplies 40% of the nation’s blood, the Red Cross said in a press release it has had to limit recent blood distributions to hospitals and has seen a 10% decline in donations since March 2020. According to the Red Cross, many blood drives have been canceled because of illness and staffing shortages.

According to the Red Cross, blood types O positive, O negative and platelets are in most critical need right now, but all types are needed.


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