Husband and wife make convalescent plasma donation a family affair

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

August 28, 2020- You may have heard the term “convalescent plasma” as a potential treatment for COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are curious about it.

Simply put, convalescent plasma comes from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus. Plasma is the part of blood that remains after red and white blood cells are removed. It is rich in proteins and antibodies. Hospitals and research labs around the country are working to see if these antibodies can help the immune system fight COVID-19.

The American Red Cross has been collecting convalescent plasma from donors throughout the country who have recovered from COVID-19 for months. But this week, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 research.

“The donation process on-site was effortless for me and hopefully, my plasma will help others,”

Ron Baumberger

In Northeast Ohio, husband and wife Ron and Elinor Baumberger are answering the call to donate convalescent plasma after they both recovered from COVID-19. Ron donated this past Friday, and Elinor plans to donate next week.

Ron is no stranger to serving his community. Upon his retirement in 2013 after 32 years with Sherwin-Williams, he immediately joined the Red Cross volunteer team as a Disaster Action Team member and is now the Region Logistics Lead. During his time with the Red Cross, Ron has responded to over 200 local fires, flooding, helped at shelters and warming centers, and provided a host of other services. It’s no surprise that after years of donating his time and talent to the Red Cross, that when he and his wife Elinor came down with COVID-19, they would also want to donate their plasma once fully recovered. 

Ron and Elinor Baumberger

Ron considers himself lucky that he and his wife both had mild cases of COVID-19 that did not require hospitalization. They believe Elinor contracted the virus in January before it became widely known in the medical community. In June, the Red Cross began testing donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies. In July, Elinor donated blood, which tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. 

In May, Ron came down with symptoms similar to Elinor’s. “I thought I was suffering from allergies or a sinus infection,” said Ron. “I found out I was exposed (through Elinore) to COVID-19 and started to identify my symptoms as fatigue, a minor sore throat, and loss of taste and smell.” His test came back positive. “Elinor had a worse case of it. But now, we have fully recovered with no post-illness symptoms.” 

“The donation process was quite simple,” Ron explained. “I registered from home, received a phone call to qualify me, selected my time and date, and the rest is history!” 

Ron said the entire process took about 90 minutes. “They explained the process, hooked me up and away we went! They continued to check on me periodically and answered any questions I had.” 

The Red Cross supplies close to 40% of the nation’s blood supply and is always in need of donors, but the pandemic has made the need especially dire. To learn more about blood donation or to find a blood drive or donation center near you, click HERE. The Red Cross is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies, and if your blood tests positive you may have the unique opportunity to help patients fighting the disease. Click here to learn more about convalescent plasma donations.

“The donation process on-site was effortless for me and hopefully, my plasma will help others,” said Ron.

Those who have received a verified  COVID-19 diagnosis, have fully recovered and have been symptom free for at least 14 days are urged to sign up to give convalescent plasma by completing the donor information form HERE.

Northern Ohio volunteers deploy across the country to assist residents in need

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 24, 2020- Volunteers from Northern Ohio are preparing for the storms taking aim at the Gulf Coast and have responded to the current wildfires in California and the derecho that slammed the Midwest two weeks ago.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”- John Lavelle, Northern Ohio volunteer

Three volunteers have deployed to California, 5 are providing relief to residents in Iowa, and 7 have been assigned to help with any tropical storm/hurricane relief efforts required because of Marco and Laura.

John Lavelle, a volunteer who is part of the Red Cross’ Iowa disaster response team, recently provided an update to the Northern Ohio Region about his experience:

“One of the first things you learn on deployment is that flexibility is paramount. Coming to Iowa, the original assignment was for feeding. However, after about two hours, the assignment became what they call a special strike force, where our primary mission was to find out what the residents needed and where to distribute the items.

One of our stops on Saturday (August 22) was a large apartment complex, which gave me tremendous appreciation for individuals who provide food to refugee camps in the hardest hit areas around the world. Trying to maintain organization and provide the items people needed at times overwhelmed us. Experience is by far the best teacher, and following this experience, the team came up with a plan as to what to do if a similar situation happens again.

One image that stands out to me was when a resident wanted a case of water and a large bag of 12 meals, both heavy objects. We told her we would hold one of the items for her until she came back, but she refused and placed the case of water on her head and carried the box of food in her arms. She made it appear as if she was born to do this.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”

In addition, several volunteers responded to seven home fires in Northern Ohio over the weekend, providing immediate financial assistance to more than 30 children and adults.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Red Cross nurse, Helen Caves of Indiana, talked with shelter client Grace about her health conditions and the state of her home while providing her a safe place to rest. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to  staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters.

People in good health and who are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy for up to two weeks can visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday, or can call 1-800-RED CROSS. The number one priority of the American Red Cross is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, blood donors and recipients, and the people we serve, and we have implemented several measures, in accordance with CDC guidelines, to protect our workers and those who need our assistance.

Why celebrate World Humanitarian Day?

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 19, 2020- If you watch or read world news, you undoubtedly know there are millions of people who live in conditions that we would consider “intolerable.” Those who strive every day to prevent and alleviate this human suffering, without regard to race, creed, sex, color or nationality, are humanitarians, and those are the ones honored each August 19th.

Every volunteer with the American Red Cross is a humanitarian. Here in Northern Ohio, our volunteers respond every day to local disasters, such as home fires, to help residents in need and provide comfort and support.

Our volunteers even deploy across the country to help provide humanitarian assistance. During the early hurricane and wildfire season in 2020, Northern Ohio has deployed more than 10 disaster volunteers to assist affected communities.

The Problem

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to comprehend all the challenges in the world today:

  • Armed conflicts are killing innocent civilians without regard to international conventions
  • Infectious diseases are becoming more prevalent and harder to contain
  • Lack of employment, housing, nutrition and medical supplies are all worldwide concerns
  • Climate change has decimated crop growing regions and endangered coastal areas with flooding
  • Authoritarian leaders have pillaged country’s coffers and jailed those who dare to protest

The Need

According to the 2020 United Nations (UN) Global Humanitarian Overview, responding to these needs is going to require an unprecedented effort.

  • 166,500,000 People are in need worldwide
  • 108,800,000 People have been targeted for aid by the UN. (Some countries will not allow UN aid)
  • $29,700,000,000 Required to meet their needs
  • $15,960,000,000 Funding received from UN members
  • $13,740,000,000 Yes, that’s a $13-billion shortfall for meeting the anticipated needs this year.

That’s a crisis in itself…

But, that’s not all

The above numbers represent day-to-day requirements for those in need worldwide. What they don’t include are disasters, which the Red Cross forecasts will be increasing each year due to climate change.

That is where the Red Cross comes in. Helping people prepare for disasters, responding immediately after disasters, and helping people reconnect and rebuild lives in the aftermath are all specialties of the Red Cross.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fried chicken and vegetables is the ultimate comfort meal, served to shelter client Brian by volunteer Robert. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Moreover, the Red Cross supplies humanitarians, more than 90% of whom are volunteers, who give of their time and talents to provide hope and comfort to others in their time of need.

Across the United States, nearly 372,000 volunteers give a little or give a lot of their time to be on-call for the next home fire, flooding event or other emergency. Won’t you consider becoming part of this country’s largest humanitarian organization? Explore the opportunities you might be qualified for by clicking here.  And remember to celebrate all the humanitarians actively working around the world each August 19.

This is what a socially distant response looks like

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 10, 2020- This summer has been unlike any other. We have canceled vacation plans, avoided the pools due to safety concerns and we are even wearing masks and keeping our distance when visiting family and friends. However, one thing that has not changed, despite the coronavirus, is that emergencies still occur and the American Red Cross will be there to assist residents in need.

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Resident Kim Lane speaks with Red Cross Disaster Action Team member Jan Cooper

On Sunday, August 9, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to a condo fire in Westlake that affected 15 residents. While the response was similar to past responses, it was also quite different.

The residents affected by the fire received immediate financial assistance, a cornerstone of Red Cross disaster response.  Those displaced by the Courtyard Condominium fire received a total of nearly $2,800 for a hotel room, food, and other immediate needs.

There were no hugs or handshakes, but the comfort the Red Cross is known for was there. Following CDC and Red Cross guidelines, Northern Ohio Disaster Action Team members wore masks, washed hands frequently, and kept their distance as much as possible.

Resident Kim Lane, upon receiving financial assistance to help her find a safe place to stay, said “It’s all very helpful. This will help with tonight (Sunday) and tomorrow. It takes a load off.  I’m very grateful.”

Jennifer Easton, who also received assistance with her husband Matthew said, “I wasn’t aware the Red Cross did this (aiding people affected by home fires.) I know they go to floods and hurricanes, but this is a revelation.”

Here is a video showing how the Red Cross maintained social distance during the response:

In addition to the Westlake response, over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 24 residents and provided $5,760 in immediate financial assistance.

Since July 1, the Red Cross has assisted 307 adults, 220 children and has provided more than $111,000 in immediate financial assistance.

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The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters like the Westlake fire. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

To see more photos from the Westlake socially distant response, visit our Flickr page.

Updated hurricane forecast highlights the need for volunteers to help people who have to flee their homes

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 7, 2020- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an “extremely active” hurricane season with the potential to be one of the busiest on record, according to the agency’s annual August update.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Carol Holm of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In order to prepare, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is seeking volunteers able to train as shelter service or disaster health supervisors and associates. They must also be willing to deploy.

Already, 12 Northern Ohio volunteers responded to Hurricane Isaias, most of whom are physically deployed.

According to this press release, the NOAA now expects 19-25 named storms for the season, which ends November 30. 7-11 are anticipated to become hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.

This year’s storms are also expected to be stronger and longer-lived than average. While the outlook does not forecast landfall, we must be ready.

Whether you are a current Red Cross volunteer or interested in becoming one, please consider applying for the following positions. If you have any family members or friends who may be interested, please speak to them as well.

Shelter Services

As always, the Red Cross is committed to providing safe shelter following a disaster and is taking steps to keep shelter residents, volunteers, and staff safe during the pandemic, including using non-traditional shelters where possible. No matter the type of shelter used, volunteers are needed to help staff reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection, and other vital tasks to help those impacted by a disaster. Associate and supervisory level opportunities are available.

Disaster Health Services

The Red Cross needs licensed medical professionals for a number of volunteer roles. These include:

  • Helping assess people’s health and providing hands-on care in alignment with professional licensure (RN and LPN/LVN).
  • Assisting with daily living activities, personal assistance services, providing health education, and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment, or consumable medical supplies.
  • And possibly performing daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents.

Both supervisory and associate positions are available. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO, or PA with an active, current, and unencumbered license, please consider volunteering. Ancillary roles are available locally for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses, and medical students. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are able to help or would like more information, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday. The Red Cross covers travel and training expenses.

“Red Cross Roadie” hits the road again

IT worker heads to USVI ahead of strengthening storm

 

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

July 29, 2020- David Schindler is heading to his 35th assignment as an information technology (IT) volunteer for the American Red Cross, as tropical storm Isaias chugs toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

He is being deployed as the disaster services technology chief, responsible for setting up workstations, ensuring connectivity, and troubleshooting tech issues for Red Cross disaster workers who could be assigned to respond to the storm.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said the unassuming IT expert from his home in Lake County, as he prepared Tuesday night for his trip to St. Thomas, USVI.

How long he stays is anybody’s guess.

“I spent 21 months in Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Katrina response,” David said, recalling one of his first Red Cross assignments.  It was also his longest, but lengthy assignments are routine for him.

“I spent six months in Puerto Rico for (responding to) Hurricane Maria,” where he helped establish satellite services for the people of the devastated island.

David Schindler

David Schindler on a Zoom virtual news conference on July 28 prior to deploying to the U.S. Virgin Islands

“David is an outstanding volunteer, and an outstanding individual,” said Emily Probst, the workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “So many people depend on him, and he always answers the call.”

“I call myself a Red Cross roadie,” David said, recalling the Jackson Browne song about the workers who are the first to arrive to set up the stage and the band’s equipment, and are the last to leave after packing everything away for the next show on the tour.

David spent a career as an information technology systems manager before retiring 16 years ago and using his experience to assist us whenever and wherever people need Red Cross help.

What’s changed since then?  “Laptops have gotten lighter.  Cellphones are different. We had flip phones when I started.  Now we use smartphones.”

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020.  Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

David rates the technology we use as state-of-the art.

As a disaster services technology chief, David said he has worked with up to 80 others on disaster responses, and at times, he has been the sole technology worker.

“Every operation has unique challenges,” David said.  He’s not too concerned about traveling for this assignment, despite COVID-19.  The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines and has instituted several procedures to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and the people we are assisting.

“I’m a little concerned about wearing a face covering all day, but it’s a petty thing when you think about the job we’re doing.”

If you’re healthy and you would like to help others who may be affected by severe weather this hurricane/wildfire season by working in a shelter, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

 

 

Early active hurricane season highlights need for disaster support

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

July 27, 2020- Earlier this year, weather experts predicted that the 2020 hurricane season would be one of the most intense seasons in recent memory. So far, the early hurricane season has not made any efforts to debunk those predictions, with an unprecedented 8 named storms already developing, with 4 months remaining in the season.

Currently there are two different storms affecting different regions of the United States, which the American Red Cross is actively monitoring to assist residents in need.

Hurricane Hanna

Hanna

  • Record-earliest eighth named storm in the Atlantic Basin and the first hurricane of the season.
  • Downgraded to a tropical storm overnight after making landfall twice Saturday evening along southern Texas’s Gulf coast as a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Heavy rainfall has already produced numerous reports of flash flooding across south Texas, and tropical storm conditions are expected to continue Sunday afternoon.

Red Cross Response:

In response to Hanna, the Red Cross has pre-positioned thousands of cots, blankets and other shelter supplies across the Gulf Coast.

The Red Cross has also opened 3 Red Cross shelters in Cameron, Nueces and Kleberg Counties and is supporting the state with hotel stays as needed. The Red Cross is also serving hundreds of meals and snacks with partners so far.

Hurricane Douglas

Douglas

  • First Eastern Pacific major hurricane of the season as it became a Category 4 storm on July 24. As of Sunday morning, Douglas was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.
  • Although some slow weakening is anticipated over the next two days, Douglas is expected to maintain its hurricane intensity as it passes dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands on Sunday and into Monday. If it does make landfall, it would be only the third hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii.
  • With the close passage of the storm, damaging winds, flooding rainfall, dangerously high surf and mudslides could threaten the islands. Impacts from Douglas will first impact the Big Island before moving to Maui and other islands into the beginning of this week.

Red Cross Response:

The Red Cross has pre-positioned relief supplies to support residents in need. The Red Cross is also currently supporting 5 government-run evacuation centers and several more are expected to open today.

In addition to Hanna and Douglas, the Red Cross is closely monitoring Invest 92L in the Atlantic. It is expected to move westward during the next several days, and it could become a tropical depression or storm this week as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles.

While a busy hurricane season, along with a busy wildfire season, is enough cause for concern, the current environment surrounding COVID-19 is making responding to disasters more difficult.

As COVID-19 numbers increase, it is making it challenging for the Red Cross to deploy trained disaster volunteers to other parts of the country should an emergency occur. To help respond to these disasters, the Red Cross needs volunteers from the Northern Ohio Region


, who are willing to travel when necessary, to lend a helping hand.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

Shelter Help Needed

There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, we have put in place additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.

Health Services Support Needed 

If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses and medical students. We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters. This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.

If you are interested in helping our community should a disaster occur, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday

Future of Northern Ohio’s American Red Cross bright with new Young Professionals Council leadership

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

July 22, 2020- Our Northern Ohio Red Cross welcomed a new Young Professionals Council leadership team July 1. The team is dedicated to the YPC and the mission of the American Red Cross and will help create a positive, new chapter for the council. The new leadership of the YPC includes Jasmine Boutros of KeyBank, chair; Adam Joines  of Jones Day, vice-chair; and Ali DeCrane of CBIZ, secretary.

The council is a dedicated group of mission-minded young professionals who support the Red Cross through volunteerism, outreach and special events. The YPC consists of four committees: Onboarding/Engagement Committee, Social Committee, Service Committee and Professional Development Committee.

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Young Professional Council members in November held a netorking lunchon with Don Kimble of KeyBank

The Northern Ohio Region’s YPC was formed in 2017 when Northern Ohio Regional CEO Mike Parks and the board of directors expressed an interest in engaging more young people in the mission of the Red Cross, expanding its volunteer base and infusing fresh new ideas into the organization. Over the next year, the YPC grew from a group of five individuals, to a group of 20.

Since the inception of the YPC, its members have volunteered hundreds of hours for the Red Cross, including participating in numerous Sound the Alarm events, hosting Missing Maps mapathons, supporting veterans at the VA, and assisting with blood drives throughout the region. The YPC holds quarterly professional development events, inviting top business leaders from the community (often times a Red Cross board member) to share their insights and advice with the group. The YPC also holds quarterly social events, including networking opportunities and dinners.

I asked why these individuals committed to the Red Cross in leadership roles and solicited their thoughts on the need for young volunteers.

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YPC Vice-Chair Adam Joines donating blood at a blood drive at Saucy Brew Works in Cleveland

Jasmine, chair, explained, “I’m passionate about the work of the Red Cross because I started my career in pediatric oncology. Working with kids fighting cancer and receiving regular transfusions, I’ve seen firsthand the impact Red Cross programs like blood drives can have on our most vulnerable population. It’s important for young professionals to get involved because we are the people who can create the momentum to make long, lasting changes to our community.”

Adam, vice-chair, said, “Volunteering establishes a sense of perspective. Whether it is installing smoke alarms in others’ homes, giving blood and following its journey to a patient, playing drums with veterans and families in therapeutic “jam sessions,” or consoling a family suddenly homeless after a fire, each opportunity provides a glimpse into another facet of life that the volunteer might not otherwise experience. Volunteering gives young people the opportunity to “walk a mile in another person’s shoes” and recognize the world from another angle.”

Secretary Ali DeCrane stated, “Growing up as the daughter of a fireman and teacher, the importance of helping those in need when you are able to was instilled in me from an early age. I felt that I needed to invest my time in helping those in our community and society who needed it. This organization was a natural fit for me, as my own values aligned so well with the fundamental principles it promotes. As a young professional, I believe that it is now our turn to take responsibility for building a better world for all people. My advice to young professionals is to make time to get involved because it will give you experiences and relationships that you will value for the rest of your life.”

Red Cross staff is grateful for Jasmine, Adam and Ali for their valuable time, energy and passion. They look forward to collaborating with them to advance the organization’s mission.

YPC membership offers:

  • Networking opportunities with fellow philanthropic young professionals and community leaders
  • A chance to volunteer for the world’s most recognized charity
  • Leadership opportunities in areas including: event planning, fundraising and mission deliver

 

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Members of the YPC with Brinton Lincoln, Vice President of Military Markets for Selman & Company, during a networking event

For more information on how you or someone you know can become involved with the Red Cross of Northern Ohio’s Young Professionals Council, contact Carolyn Wild at 216-346-8220 or carolyn.wild2@redcross.org.

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Seeking hero volunteers: The need is great; the reward, greater

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

July 20, 2020- It has been a tumultuous 2020 so far. A global pandemic, waves of protests for social justice, a massive economic downturn and a volatile political environment in an election year. And it’s only July. But amidst the chaos, there is hope. We see it shine in stories of everyday heroes— first responders, medical workers and essential employees. While most of America is trying to cope with the stress of the pandemic, we can find comfort knowing there is an organization full of heroes working quietly behind the scenes, whose sole mission is to plan for the worst, so that we don’t have to. The volunteer heroes of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross provides support to victims of disasters, and supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood. They depend on volunteers to perform their mission. Right now they are short-handed, especially in the area of blood services and disaster volunteers. Planning for a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire, is a challenge any time, but especially during this pandemic. Emily Probst is the regional disaster workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. She coordinates the deployment of local volunteers when natural disasters occur.

Southern Storms and Tornadoes 2020

“Currently our biggest challenge is finding volunteers who are willing to deploy in the COVID environment.” said Emily.

Melanie Collins, regional volunteer recruitment specialist for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio agrees that recruiting new volunteers and keeping current ones at this time has presented some challenges.

“A lot of our current volunteers who are ages 60+ have decided to not volunteer at this time– which is completely understandable as the health and safety of our workforce comes first and foremost,” said Melanie. “At the same time, we saw a huge increase in volunteer applications over the last few months. Those who are healthy and willing to volunteer have stepped up to give their time.”

People have been hesitant to donate blood, so there is a blood shortage. But when donors do  give, the Red Cross needs volunteer blood donor ambassadors to check the temperatures of potential donors and staff so a phlebotomist does not have to be pulled away. Melanie said donors and volunteers can feel safe going to a blood donation center because several enhanced blood donation protocols have been put into place.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

In the event of a natural disaster requiring the opening of shelters, there will be a need for volunteers in those shelters. Additional safety measures have been implemented for disasters. “Our disaster response has gone almost completely virtual,” said Melanie. “If a home fire or other disaster can’t be responded to virtually, social distancing measures are put in place.”

Volunteers give their time and talents. In return, they get a sense of purpose and pride in helping others. The need is great for volunteers in the areas of local engagement, blood services, deployment opportunities, sheltering and disaster health. A complete list of volunteer needs is available here. If you are interested in a rewarding volunteer opportunity, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday. You can also reach out to the volunteer services department at NOHvolunteer@redcross.org or contact Melanie Collins via email or call 330-204-6615.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

Got ink? You can still give blood

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

July 17, 2020- In honor of National Tattoo Day today we’re debunking the myth that those with tattoos can’t give blood. On June 8, the American Red Cross implemented new changes to donor eligibility criteria that may make it even easier for those with tattoos to give!

tattoo

 

In most states, including Ohio, there is no waiting period to give blood if your tattoo was applied in a state-regulated facility. The District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming do not regulate tattoo facilities. If you received a tattoo in one of these states, the waiting period to give has gone from 12 months to three months.

If you are an individual currently deferred with the Red Cross for a tattoo under the former policy, your donor record will be updated by the end of July to align with the new policy. If you would like to have your donor record updated prior to then, donors can contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276 for more immediate action. Please be aware that deferrals cannot be removed onsite at our blood drives or donation centers.

 

The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donors to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need. Healthy, eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment in the coming weeks. To schedule a time to give, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance and recent local and state mandates. To learn more about donor eligibility, visit RedCrossBlood.org/eligibility.

 

Scared of needles? That is okay! You can help the Red Cross assist patients in need of lifesaving blood by becoming a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to learn more and to apply.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer