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Coronavirus pandemic jumpstarts new concierge service for blood donors

Want to donate blood? SunCoast Blood Centers will come straight to you in new mini-buses.

“20 years ago, 15 percent of the population donated blood on a regular basis,” Joan Leonard said. “We are down to 3 percent of the population. That’s a huge difference!”

Joan Leonard is a community liaison for SunCoast Blood Centers. She says the constant decline of blood donations since the coronavirus pandemic began has created an uneasy feeling.

“If our regular donors came out twice a year instead of once a year, they’re probably wouldn’t be critical shortages,” Leonard said.

But as we maneuver through living in a world with COVID-19, many avid donors are scared to leave their homes or show up to a blood center out of fear of contracting the virus.

SunCoast Blood Centers knew it had to get creative if it wanted to recover its blood supply.

“You know how they say when tragedy hits creative minds get working,” Leonard said. “We started something brand new, we are one of the only blood centers in the whole country that has a concierge program.”

SunCoast Blood Centers turned to local community foundations and got the money to purchase three mini-buses that are now driven to people’s homes.

“So, if somebody is afraid to go out into the public to donate or come into one of our fixed site locations, we will pull right up to their driveway,” Leonard said. “It’s a one on one with one of our staff phlebotomists that drive the bus and then the donor that comes out of their home for 30 minutes or less and donates, and then onto the next home!”

With this new service, SunCoast Blood Centers has been able to collect eight units a day.

Leonard says this new and innovative idea is an awesome way to collect blood and fill the need.

“I don’t see it ever ending,” Leonard said. “So, something good can come out of some bad situations.”

If you want to take advantage of this opportunity to donate you can set up an appointment by calling 844-972-6819 or emailing home@suncoastblood.org.

The lead on the concierge program says the team hopes to soon start covering a larger area. They have busses leaving from Lakewood Ranch, covering Manatee and Sarasota counties. The goal is to travel even further south, leaving out of Venice to cover areas like Port Charlotte and North Port.