To accommodate the pressing need for donations, an American Red Cross blood drive is scheduled to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at the Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston West in South Charleston.
Thursday’s blood drive will be the fourth conducted at the hotel since the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing social health and safety restrictions. Two blood drives were held at the Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston West in April; both were filled to donation capacity. Another blood drive was slated at the facility this past Tuesday.
“We found out that the Red Cross was 87,000 pints short and 2,700 blood drives had canceled once the COVID-10 issue became what it is,” Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston West Director of Sales Don Meador said. “At the same time, all of our meetings and events were being canceled and we had an empty ballroom. This was a chance to interact with clients and the public, a chance to do something, and it’s safe and they need it.”
“We started the first couple of weeks with an urgent appeal; we’d literally had cancellations of most of our drives,” said Krista Farley Raines, the Regional Communications Officer for the American Red Cross West Virginia Region. “We’ve been so blessed that the Holiday Inn & Suites has stepped up and hosted a few drives at their location. We have opened our office in Cross Lanes for donations as well. Usually, they’re the only thing going on there right now.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of donors,” Raines said, “but I don’t know why — it’s West Virginia and our people step up. The donors and volunteers have been amazing. It definitely give you the opportunity to witness humanity at its finest.”
As in the previous drives, social distancing measures will be in effect and enforced during the drive on Thursday.
“Each donation center always follows a safety protocol. We’re checking the temperatures of staff and donors to make sure they’re healthy. We’re providing hand sanitizer and following social distancing between donors at entry, during the donations and at the recovery area afterward. Face masks are available for donors and staff. We encourage donors to bring their face masks and use them during the donation,” Raines said.
“The public has been amazing,” Meador said. “We’ve had 30 appointments each time we’ve done it so far — that’s 30 pints of blood, with some doubles in there, and probably 300 lives being saved thanks to what they’re doing.”
The Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston West is located at 400 Second Ave., S.W., in South Charleston. Donations will be taken in the hotel’s Centennial Ballroom, which measures 4,000 square feet.
“We want to schedule appointments for the weeks ahead to make sure we have a stable supply for the pandemic,” Raines said.
According to the American Red Cross website, other blood drives scheduled in the Kanawha Valley through May include:
• Tuesday, May 12: American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region office, 113 Lakeview Drive, Charleston (Cross Lanes), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Wednesday, May 13: American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region office, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Thursday, May 14: American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region office, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Friday, May 15: American Red Cross Central Appalachia Region office, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 19: CAMC Women & Children’s Hospital, 800 Pennsylvania Ave., Charleston, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Friday, May 29: CAMC Memorial Division, 3200 MacCorkle Ave., Charleston, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To check the availability of donation times and schedule an appointment or find out more about the requirements for donating blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org and search for the South Charleston drive. Information and scheduling are also available by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by installing the American Red Cross app.
Appointments are mandatory. Walk-ins are not being accepted during the current pandemic guidelines.
“We don’t want donors to feel discouraged if there isn’t an appointment available. I think the key is for people to be patient and look for the next available appointment if the blood drive they’re looking at is booked. With elective surgeries starting back up, we know the need for blood will increase again,” Raines said.