Across the country, Veterans are stepping up in extraordinary ways to support their communities in the face of COVID-19. To help do our part, VA is partnering with the American Red Cross and the blood community to host blood drives at VA facilities that will help fight the blood shortage caused by this crisis.
As a health care leader, VA has an obligation to step forward to offer support for the greater good. By activating our nationwide network of hospitals and clinics, we are fulfilling our “fourth mission” to back up our nation’s health care system in times of disaster. This effort also helps ensure that we are better able to support Veterans who may need blood or blood products in the near term.
VA decided to support this effort after determining this action would not negatively impact Veteran care. VA medical centers are participating on a voluntary basis.
If you are healthy, I encourage you to visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment at a VA blood drive near you. In some areas, VA may work with other regional blood centers. You can find them by visiting aabb.org. VA hosted blood drives are scheduled on a rolling basis, so if you don’t find one you may need to check back with Red Cross or your VA medical center website for specific dates.
Even if your state or community is under a ‘stay-at-home’ or other similar order, new federal guidance allows you to leave home or travel to participate in this necessary, lifesaving activity. Both the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also affirmed that giving blood now is safe. Coronavirus or COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by donating or receiving blood.
The Red Cross and other blood collection agencies within the blood community have also implemented new precautions such as requiring masks, following social distancing guidelines and frequent wipe-downs of surfaces to keep blood drives safe and reduce the risk of transmission. To help keep your visit short, you can also complete your RapidPass® enrollment online before arriving.
Show your support
I hope you will join with me to share your health and roll up your sleeve at your VA today. You can also join the conversation on social media and when you donate, use #RollUpYourSleeveVA to show your support. Together, we can make a difference.
Dr. Teresa Boyd is the Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Services.