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Regional News

Omicron puts strain on regional blood supply

Vitalant blood donation
Courtesy of Vitalant
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Blood supply agencies, such as Vitalant, have worked hard to reach out to donors who are giving less because of the pandemic.

Some hospitals are searching for other sources for blood

The Covid omicron variant is hitting its peak in the Northwest. It’s causing labor shortages in hospitals, schools and at other workplaces.

The Covid omicron variant is hitting its peak in the Northwest. It’s causing labor shortages in hospitals, schools and at other workplaces.

It’s also putting a real strain on the region’s blood supply, says Dr. Michael Anderson, the chief medical officer at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

“Throughout our system we have seen some declines in the availability of blood and when that happens, we start putting a second review of the cases that we take to the O.R., to reduce or mitigate the potential risk there," he said.

Anderson says his health care system is asking employees to give blood if they are able.

Dr. Elizabeth Wako from Swedish Health Services in Seattle says, in situations like this, hospitals must get creative.

“We start to use alternative measures to replace blood, an alternative product. They are nowhere near effective as blood. The need of blood is very emergent and it can happen in very many settings. It can happen in labor and delivery. It can happen in the emergency room under trauma. So it’s not just in operating rooms where you see the need for blood," she said.

Bloodworks Northwest announced last week that it was running dangerously short on blood supplies. Wako and Anderson urge members of the public who are feeling well to make an appointment at their local blood center.