National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
OCE Partnerships and COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced in April that it would be partnering with the American Red Cross to host blood drives at VA facilities across the country. The American Red Cross has said that it faces a severe blood shortage as the coronavirus pandemic inhibits some people’s desire or ability to give blood. Giving blood is a safe process for healthy individuals and staff members within VA and the Red Cross are working to ensure the donation process is safe for all involved.
One VA staff member recently gave blood at VA’s Central Office (VACO) in Washington, D.C., and had a positive and safe experience. Ms. Heather Luper, a licensed clinical social worker who works within the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA’s) Office of Community Engagement (OCE), explained that when she went to donate blood in April, many safety protocols were in effect.
“It was really easy and only took a couple of minutes to sign up for an appointment at VACO. I was notified not to come if I was showing symptoms of illness and not to come too early, to limit how many people were in the room,” Ms. Luper said.
She and everyone else were wearing face-covering masks, she added. Blood drive workers also took her temperature.
“They were really friendly,” Ms. Luper said of the workers. “It was a nice atmosphere, quick and efficient, and they really put you at ease.”
Individuals interested in donating blood should visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive at a VA facility.
Ms. Luper, a “universal donor”—people like her, with O-negative blood type, are able to donate their blood to people with any other blood type—said she knows how important it is for her to do something that can help others.
“It’s important, and it’s life-saving,” she said. “It really feels great to do something that can help so many people.”
By leveraging VA’s resources to ensure vital blood and blood products are available for patients, VA is exercising its “Fourth Mission” to provide back-up health services to the nation in times of disaster.
For more information about OCE and the work it does to support Veterans’ health and wellbeing throughout VA, please visit www.va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Posted June 8, 2020