By Lori Szepelak
GREATER SPRINGFIELD – As the holiday season gears up, there are countless ways that area residents can help others – including donating blood.
In addition to the American Red Cross, area hospitals also offer bloodmobiles that travel daily across the region to local businesses, schools and churches offering convenience to donors.
“The majority of blood we collect comes from donors who participate in drives sponsored by local businesses,” Rebecca Flynn, MT (ASCP) SBB, manager of Mercy Medical Center’s Blood Bank and Donor Program, said during an interview with Reminder Publications. “We greatly appreciate these local organizations not only for hosting the drives but taking the time to get the word out to their co-workers that a drive is about to happen.”
The James J. Dowd & Sons Insurance Co. of Holyoke is a regular stop for Mercy’s bloodmobile.
“The bloodmobile is good for the community and for the people it benefits,” said Diane Cygan, a personal lines manager at Dowd who has been donating blood since the 1980’s. “It’s a good feeling to be able to help others.”
Cygan noted that on average, six to 12 people give blood every eight weeks when Dowd Insurance hosts a blood drive.
As Cygan was prepped to have her blood drawn, waiting in the wings was Tom Terry, an accountant with Lester Halpern & Co., P.C., whose company also shares space in the office building on Bobala Road.
“I feel fortunate I can donate blood and that it helps someone else,” said Terry, noting the added convenience of the bloodmobile stopping at the job site.
“Thanks to donors across the valley, our donor program is able to meet between 80 and 90 percent of the patient transfusion needs at the hospital,” Flynn said. “We are very proud of this fact.”
Flynn added that donors can be “assured” their blood is given to patients at Mercy in Springfield.
Mercy Medical Center has two bloodmobiles, which are available upon request. Blood donor eligibility guidelines include: person must weigh at least 110 pounds, be at least 17 years of age, should have eaten within two to three hours prior to donating blood, and should be well hydrated. Also, all donors must present a driver’s license or state ID with photo when donating.
In appreciation for donating blood, donors receive a mini-physical, which includes a blood pressure check, a complimentary cholesterol screening, refreshments, and a complimentary thank you gift. In November, while supplies last, Mercy’s bloodmobiles will be giving crewneck sweatshirts in an assortment of colors to those who donate blood.
Mercy’s November bloodmobiles scheduled include:
• Nov. 13, 2 to 7 p.m., St. Rose de Lima Church, 600 Grattan St., Chicopee;
• Nov. 15, 1 to 6 p.m., Randall’s Farm, 631 Center St., Ludlow;
• Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Westfield Post Office, 8 West Silver St., Westfield, and from 2 to 6 p.m., St. Cecilia’s Church, 42 Main St., Wilbraham;
• Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Comark, 104 Feeding Hills Road, Southwick, and from noon to 4 p.m., Western Massachusetts Hospital, 91 East Mountain Road, Westfield;
• Nov. 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mestek Inc., 260 North Elm St., Westfield.
• Nov. 22, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., TurboCare, 1310 Sheridan St., Chicopee;
• Nov. 25, 1 to 5 p.m., Suddekor, LLC, 240 Bowles St., Agawam; and
• Nov. 26, 1 to 5 p.m., Suddekor, LLC, 82 Deer Park Drive, East Longmeadow.
The American Red Cross will also host several community blood drives during November, including:
• Nov. 12, 1 to 6 p.m., Southwick Town Hall, 454 College Highway, Southwick;
• Nov. 13, noon to 6 p.m., South Hadley Town Hall, 116 Main St., South Hadley, and from 1 to 6 p.m., OMG, 153 Bowles Road, Agawam;
• Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Goodwill Industries, 621 East Main St., Westfield;
• Nov. 25, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Agawam Public Library, 750 Cooper St., Agawam; and
• Nov. 30, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Holyoke YMCA, 160 Beech St., Holyoke.
For more information on hosting a bloodmobile, call Mercy’s Blood Bank Marketing Coordinator at 748-9406, or the American Red Cross at 800-733-2767.