Grand Lake Club at Southbridge to Host Emergency Blood Drive on April 1st Amid Pandemic-Driven Blood Shortage

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Due to a blood shortage that has been caused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Grand Lake Club at Southbridge is stepping up and hosting an emergency blood drive on behalf of the American Red Cross on Wednesday, April 1 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Grand Lake Clubhouse, located at 815 Southbridge Blvd., Savannah. This drive is appointment only and not open to the public.

“When I learned from our local, Red Cross branch that scheduled blood drives were being cancelled not just in Savannah, but all over the country, I knew I had to do something,” said Grand Lake Club General Manager Tara O’Sullivan.

According to the American Association of Blood Banks, over 4,000 blood drives were cancelled in the U.S. because of coronavirus fears and challenges. This resulted in an unprecedented loss of 130,000 individual donations.

“Just because we are facing a global pandemic does not mean that the need for ongoing, essential services stops,” explained O’Sullivan. “Blood drives are still an essential service and the Red Cross has checked that the drive meets all safety measures put in place by the City of Savannah and has also verified the drive’s safety with the CDC and the FDA.”

Members of the Savannah community have already committed to donate in light of this dire need, including Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, Port Wentworth Mayor Gary Norton, Bloomingdale Mayor Ben Rozier, Garden City Mayor Don Bethune, Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter, Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions and Chatham County Commissioner for District 7 Dean Kicklighter. Local citizens who depend on blood donors have also come forward to encourage others to open their hearts and their veins.

“We appreciate the community coming together to help people like me and my son who are both recipients and primary immune deficient survivors,” said Sherry Daniel, owner of Roto-Rooters of Savannah. “When I got the notice from the Immune Deficiency Foundation that there may be a shortage and then heard the Surgeon General say that we have a critical shortage I became concerned, so it truly touches my heart to see people think of others during this pandemic. This blood drive literally saves me and my son’s life because we depend on the goodness of others.”

While the Red Cross always takes special safety precautions, those measures are heightened in light of the current outbreak. They are asking that individuals postpone their donation for 28 days following:

-         Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea; and/or

-         Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has the virus, or suspected to have it.

The Red Cross always employs thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection and uses safety measures to protect the blood from all respiratory viruses, including this coronavirus strain. Additional precautionary methods in response to COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

-          All donors are temperature-screened before being permitted into the blood drive. If bodily temperature is above 99.5°F, the donor is asked to donate another time instead.

-         All Red Cross staff are asked to check their temperature before presenting to work, and will not to report for work if they are showing any symptoms or test above 99.5°F. 

-         Blood donors are asked to use hand sanitizer before and during the donation process. 

-         Staff wear gloves throughout the donation process, changing gloves between every donor. 

-         Donor beds are sanitized between every donor.

-         Implementing medically-recommended space between donors wherever possible.

-         Assessing the need and opportunity to enhance safety precautions on a daily basis.

Per usual, the Red Cross will be providing each donor with a call back number in the event that they develop any symptoms of illness within the days following donation so that those donations can be quarantined and not used for transfusion.