There are some things that can halt during the coronavirus outbreak, even if it causes disruptions large and small.
But some activities and jobs must continue on. The need for plasma has not stopped because of COVID-19, and BioLife Plasma Services, which has a center in Harrisonburg, is continuing operations but taking precautions.
According to the BioLife website, thousands of people with rare, chronic and complex diseases rely on plasma every day, many of whom have few alternative options. Many of these patients have compromised immune systems, making them especially vulnerable to infection.
In an effort to protect the health and safety of donors and those who work at plasma centers, BioLife is taking a number of precautions, said Deborah Hibbitt, head of plasma-derived therapy communications.
Public health authorities and the government recognize the need for plasma, which is why plasma collection has been identified by several jurisdictions, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as a critical service with a special responsibility to remain open amid social distancing-related closures, Hibbitt said.
So the center staff are continuing to encourage healthy people to consider providing plasma. “We are engaging with our industry association, blood and blood product collectors, patient organizations and the government to reinforce the safety of both whole blood and plasma donation, and to emphasize the importance of this critical service,” she said.
Staff at BioLife centers have taken precautionary measures to protect employees and those who provide plasma, including extra cleaning processes, social distancing practices and associated training.
“Our standard strict donor selection criteria to ensure the good health of prospective donors have been expanded to exclude criteria related to COVID-19, and our protocol now requires that all donors are checked for fever when they arrive and undergo basic screening to limit infectious diseases, including this virus, as much as possible,” Hibbitt said. “Similarly, our employees have temperature screening before they begin work, and if they feel they may pose a risk, we ask them to remain home.”