By Gary Kimsey
In mid-January, the Garth Englund Blood Center made an appeal through northern Colorado media asking the public to donate blood for surgical and blood transfusion patients at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Greeley Tribune, North Forty News in Larimer County, Channel 4 and 7 in Denver responded with calls for donations.
The center still needs your help, however.
Michael Sieg, who donated Jan. 15 at the Garth Englund center in MCR, told Channel 4 that he decided to donate after hearing about the shortage. “I just think it’s one of those things you can do to help your community,” he related.
Thanks to the media’s efforts, the number of blood donations spiked upward—120 donations in the first day, compared to the daily average of 25—but the increase wasn’t as much as hoped.
“We’re asking employees to keep donating”
Part of the reason for the blood shortage is the historical post-holiday slump in donations. But this year there’s an accompanying twist: the flu. Donors who are sick or want to lay low to keep out of the flu’s way may be waiting for healthier times to roll around.
As a rule, a public appeal is the last tactic in the toolkit. If a shortage is imminent, Garth Englund staff members telephone or email people who donated before to ask them to donate now. The database totals about 59,000 donors. On the surface, that may seem like a large number of donors, but not all donate regularly and many remain one-time-only donors.
If phone calls and emails don’t bring in enough donors, appeals are then made through the company intranet and email news bulletins to University of Colorado Health employees in northern Colorado. Employees are typically willing to step up.
Appeals to staff members are often made during holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas and around July 4—and at other times when the public’s attention is drawn elsewhere than to donating blood.
As the holidays approach in mid-fall, blood supplies are bolstered by the annual Border Blood Donation War between Garth Englund and United Blood Services in Cheyenne. Each competition donor receives a special t-shirt.
From there, blood donations from community members drop off and then typically pick up in early January. But not so this year, and many UCHealth employees have helped maintain blood supplies.
“Now we’re calling on everyone to help at this critical time,” said Mandi Bornhoeft, Garth Englund manager. “Many community members have been avid donors, but we need more people to join in this important way to help others.”
“And we’re also asking employees to keep donating,” she said.
Gary Kimsey works in UCHealth’s northern marketing department.