Columbia VA Health Care System Joins Forces with Red Cross to Stabilize Blood Inventories

Blood drive

COVID-19 responses have significantly affected the blood supply, as blood donations have plummeted nationwide. As early as April 4, roughly 14,000 blood drives were canceled in the U.S., resulting in at least 425,000 fewer blood donations. In South Carolina, more than 80 blood drives were canceled, with a projected loss of 2,200 units of blood.

Columbia VA Health Care System, located in Columbia, South Carolina, joined forces with the Central South Carolina American Red Cross to help stabilize blood inventories and meet the health care needs of veterans and civilians.

It wasn't easy. Personal protective equipment was in great demand, space was not readily available, and all donors and staff needed to be screened. Through planning, collaboration and perseverance, the partners found a safe way to conduct two blood drives at Columbia VA Health Care System and acquire enough blood donations to save potentially 350 lives.

By leveraging its resources to stem the shortage of vital blood and blood products, Columbia VA Health Care System exercised the VA's "fourth mission" to provide continued health services in times of crisis.

"To say we were thrilled is an understatement," said David L. Omura, CEO of the Columbia VA Health Care System and director of its medical center. "The South Carolina American Red Cross allowed us to be part of their family by participating in their phenomenal mission. I am glad they reached out to the VA. We are truly stronger together."