The pandemic has changed where people live and how they make decisions, but one element remains consistent: convenience is key.
“Our donation locations have to be convenient for donors,” said Meg Hall, Director, Community Engagement & Expansion. “That’s what the data has been telling us, and feedback from donors has been consistent.”
“Buses are a big part of that convenient donation location that we know donors are looking for,” she added.
Bloodworks paused our mobile program – including bloodmobiles (buses) and traditional blood drives – when the pandemic hit. Our blood buses didn’t allow sufficient room for social distancing, and with schools, businesses, churches, and other community spaces closed, one-day blood drives were no longer possible.
This was a devastating loss for the blood supply: 25% of the blood supply comes from students donating at blood drives on their high school and college campuses.
We adapted by creating longer-term yet temporary Pop-Up Donor Centers at amazing community partners, such as the Mariners and the Seahawks, but the majority of our collections shifted to our twelve donor centers.
We have many dedicated donors who will donate regardless of time, traffic, or distance. However, the blood supply has decreased as a result of not being able to meet our donors where they are.
Mobiles let us go into communities where we don’t have a brick-and-mortar donor center – including new communities.
For example, in the Portland area, the amount of blood we can currently collect does not match the level of blood we provide to support patients at Portland hospitals. We also know that cities like Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Tigard have grown as people have adapted to changing work and personal dynamics.
You will see Bloodworks adding more donation opportunities for donors and adapting to where donors are going to school, living, and working—both in the metro Portland area and surrounding communities and in other locations across Western Washington and Oregon in the coming months.
The return of a more robust mobile program, eventually including buses, is exciting not only for our blood donors but also our volunteers, who support blood drives in a variety of ways.
“Offering a range of geographic locations allows for more volunteers to participate in our life-saving mission as well as build brand ambassadors to help recruit blood donors within their own community,” said Naomi Howatt, Volunteer Resources Manager. “Having more flexibility on locations, times and days will allow for more volunteers to give one of the most invaluable commodity we have: time.”
Our brand-new Renton Donor Center opened in August, and what donors may not know is that our Greater Seattle Area mobile program, previously based out of Georgetown, will be moving across the street into a state-of-the-art mobile Hub.
By joining our mobile teams with our supply warehouse and processing laboratories in single location, our staff can get into the community more efficiently and your donations can be tested and shipped out to patients in need around the Pacific Northwest even faster.