OCCC Contract Management Administrator, John Schmidt, donating blood at the OCCC OneBlood Blood Drive
Since March, blood drives across the country have been forced to cancel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To further recovery efforts within the community, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) held an employee blood drive on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.
“The OCCC blood drive is so important in helping One Blood boost its community blood supply,” says Pat Michaels, director of media and public relations at OneBlood. “This is a time to roll up your sleeves and help during the pandemic.”
With 21 employees participating in the donation drive, the OCCC's donations will have a considerable impact, saving an estimated 63 lives in our community. Benefitting both the region and the donor, OCCC employees received a wellness checkup following their donation, in addition to a Coronavirus antibody test.
Authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the antibody test will indicate whether the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the virus, regardless of whether they ever displayed symptoms. With a commitment to keeping guests, employees and the surrounding community safe, these antibody tests will help the OCCC lead with confidence over the coming weeks, as it begins to execute its Recovery and Resiliency Plan.
OneBlood’s COVID-19 antibody testing will also assist in providing important statistical information to public health officials. “OneBlood is working closely with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees M.D., to provide de-identified data on the number of people testing positive and the geographical location,” stated Michaels.
Relying on federal, state and local guidelines, this statistical information plays an important role in the OCCC’s data-driven recovery plan, as well as the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.
In addition to donors learning if they have the antibody, OneBlood will be identifying additional individuals who can be COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors. With no cure or vaccine to prevent COVID-19 to date, convalescent plasma donors have a special ability to help critically ill patients battling the virus, by transfusing plasma that is rich with COVID-19 antibodies to help boost the patient’s immune system and potentially assist in their recovery.
The U.S. Surgeon General and FDA have stated that it remains safe to donate blood and to attend blood drives. Following FDA guidelines, OCCC and OneBlood employees adhered to strict protocols during the donation drive, including wearing appropriate PPE, regular disinfection of all donor-touched areas and equipment, and utilization of sterile collection sets for every donation. Furthermore, OneBlood implemented rigorous social distancing measures, including encouraging donors to pre-register, and only allowing a limited capacity on the Big Red Bus at any one time.
The OCCC is proud of its employees for their voluntary participation in the donation drive. The Center and its employees have continued to step up in a variety of ways to help the region. From serving as a COVID-19 testing site and regularly donating fresh center-grown produce to local students and their families, to supporting residents in their reemployment assistance and CARES applications, as well as distributing essential PPE to local healthcare workers and small businesses, the OCCC is committed to being a community partner and resource for those in need.