Local hospitals report blood shortage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2000

With hospital beds filled with patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms, the Miss-Lou healthcare community is now battling a critical blood shortage.

&uot;I’ve been notified by the blood bank that there’s not enough blood and that we should postpone elective surgeries,&uot; said Karen Fiducia, interim CEO of Natchez Regional&160;Medical Center. &uot;Here, we don’t use blood products on elective cases, but if we have a major bleeder …&uot;

Despite the warning, NRMC&160;will continue elective surgeries, Fiducia said.

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Blood services like Mississippi Blood Services and United Blood Services based in Jackson both say the need for blood has never been more critical.

&uot;Four or five of our partner hospitals have begun deferring elective surgeries,&uot; said Dani Edmonson, manager of communication and public relations for Mississippi Blood Services. &uot;We’ve had a really tough year across the board. If you approach December with low numbers, you’re looking at a really bleak picture.&uot;

Natchez Community Hospital has yet to be affected by the blood shortage, said Kay Ketchings, director of marketing for the hospital.

&uot;But of course that could change at any time,&uot; she said.

Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday reported no problems in securing necessary blood products Thursday, said a hospital spokesperson.

Mississippi Blood Services, which supplies Natchez Regional and Natchez Community, is running at 20 percent of its need.

&uot;We should have 700 units of blood on stand-by and we have about 100 to 150 units at any given time,&uot; Edmonson said.

In a business in which 20-50 units of blood can be used in a single traffic accident, low levels are particularly dangerous, Edmonson said. While all types are needed, Edmonson said O negative is in especially short supply.

Deferring elective surgeries is an especially traumatic experience for patients and is a step not taken lightly by blood services, Edmonson said.

&uot;No one should have to go through that trauma of setting up a surgery and getting all their tests and paperwork done and then being told it will have to be postponed.&uot;

United Blood Services has sent out an appeal to the entire state, said Susan Caine, community relations representative with United Blood Services. &uot;We’re at a critically low level in our blood supply,&uot; she said.

The knowledge that a strong blood supply may not be available in the event of an accident frightens Caine.

&uot;I personally don’t like driving home knowing that if I get in an accident there may not be enough blood to save me,&uot; she said.

&uot;People always assume that the blood supply is going to be there.&uot;

United Blood Services is organizing a community blood drive in Natchez toward the end of the month, she said.

&uot;We’re trying to set it up at the city auditorium,&uot; Caine said.