Betsy Ryan is president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. Her blog, Healthcare Matters, examines the many issues confronting New Jersey's hospitals and their patients. Readers are encouraged to join the discussion, because healthcare matters - to all of us.

Demand for Blood Donations Never Takes a Vacation

It’s summertime, but please don’t take a vacation from donating blood. Hospitals rely on blood donations to care for cancer patients, trauma victims, people undergoing surgeries and more. Blood donations traditionally drop off significantly in the summer months, but the demand for blood never takes a break. In fact, our healthcare facilities need 110 pints of blood daily to keep up with demand.

New Jersey used 31,400 more units of blood than it collected in 2012 (that’s the most recent data available.) While 60 percent of people in New Jersey are eligible to donate blood, only 3.6 percent of them do — compared with 5 percent nationally.

You can help. Find a blood donation site near you and schedule an appointment or drop in at a blood drive. Click here for a list of blood centers at New Jersey hospitals.

Or, plan to attend the Aug. 6 mega blood drive at Rutgers’ Student Center, cosponsored by the university, the N.J. Department of Health and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. You can find more details here.

If you’re an employer, I challenge you to hold a blood drive in your workplace. We hold several a year here at NJHA, and I’m very proud of the generosity of the NJHA employees who literally roll up their sleeves to help others.

Written by Betsy Ryan at 00:00

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Donate Blood: There is No Replacement for This Natural Gift

The miracles of modern science! Scientists have crafted artificial hearts and joints, artificial sugar to flavor our food, artificial grass for our sports arenas and even this week, there’s news of an artificial hamburger grown in a laboratory. But there’s one precious commodity in which scientists have been unable to match the real thing, and that’s blood. About 5 million people receive blood transfusions in the United States each year. They are accident victims, cancer patients, burn victims and others who depend on this vital natural resource.

Unfortunately, the supply of donated blood in New Jersey has not kept pace with demands. And that shortfall is especially apparent in the summer months. That’s why I urge you to join the State of New Jersey’s Summer Rush program now through Aug. 11. It’s a focused effort to raise awareness and increase blood donations in the Garden State during these crucial days of summer.

Did you know that:

  • About one in seven people entering the hospital needs blood.
  • One pint of blood from a single donor may save three lives.
  • Sixty percent of New Jerseyans are eligible to donate blood, yet only 3.6 percent donate on a routine basis.

Our state’s Department of Health has a great Web site that provides a list of Summer Rush donation locations, along with an interactive map so you can click on your home county to find the nearest, most convenient blood drive. Giving blood is quick and it saves lives. Consider giving and check out the Web site!

Written by Betsy Ryan at 00:00

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Give A Pint, Save a Life

January is National Blood Donor Month and it’s your chance to be a hero. Give the gift of life if you see an area blood drive or if your work conducts one.

Nine out of 10 people will need blood at some point during their lifetime. And yet, the chronic shortage of donated blood often means that our hospitals have less than a two-day supply of blood on hand to treat patients. When blood supplies run very low, our hospitals may be forced to ration blood. That may sound scary – and it’s very serious – but hospitals have plans for those low-blood situations. Emergency procedures would receive priority, and elective surgeries would be limited.

In New Jersey, 60 percent of adults are eligible to give blood, but only 3.6 percent do. We fall short of the national average of 5 percent. As a result, New Jersey finds itself in the unwanted position of having to regularly import blood from other states.

Where I work, the New Jersey Hospital Association, we are committed to having blood drives every 60 days. In the past several years we have hosted about 20 workplace drives and collected more than 700 pints of blood. Because blood components can be separated out – into plasma, platelets and the like – those 700 pints have the potential to help 2,100 individuals. I am proud of what our employees give, and need to give special kudos to our own Mary Ditri (whom we now call “Bloody Mary”) for being tireless in organizing and promoting our blood drives. Thanks Mary. Now, who else is going to give a pint?

Written by Betsy Ryan at 14:03

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Save 3 Lives: Give Blood

NJHA was honored to hold a press conference recently with Commissioner of Health Heather Howard and the Workplace Blood Donor Coalition on the importance of giving blood. New Jersey, unfortunately, has a chronic problem with blood shortages, and our donor rate is far below the national average. As part of the event, we hosted our own blood drive here, and more than 50 NJHA employees, along with Commissioner Howard herself, donated blood.

One pint of blood has the potential to save three lives. New Jerseyans by and large are a generous group, and I encourage you to consider donating a pint of blood….or to organize a blood drive where you work. This month (which, by the way, is National Blood Donor Awareness Month) more than 70 blood drives have been scheduled by hospitals, other healthcare providers, blood centers and workplaces in our state.

Our hospitals transfuse 500,000 units of blood to our patients each year. This blood is essential for accident victims, cancer patients, burn victims, organ transplant recipients and premature infants and children having heart surgery. Unfortunately, most of us have had a loved one fall into one of these categories. Be a hero, and roll up your sleeve and give blood. Save three lives in the process. Be sure to eat and drink something healthy ahead of time. And let me know how you do. Whether you're a first-time donor or one of those regulars who measures contributions in gallons, I'd love to hear from you.
Written by Betsy Ryan at 20:18

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