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UDRI's own 'Crisis Hero'

 

Blood Drive Award - Robin Sutherland

Researcher recognized for coordinating blood drives during pandemic

By Pamela Gregg, Communication Administrator, 937-229-3268

Robin Sutherland admits she was feeling anxious about donating blood after the pandemic hit, let alone encouraging her colleagues to do the same. Sutherland, who had been coordinating quarterly blood drives at the University of Dayton Research Institute’s Curran Place headquarters for a year before the arrival of COVID-19 in Ohio, was concerned about being in the confined space of the Dayton Community Blood Center’s mobile donation bus and so close to medical personnel. But she also learned the pandemic had created a greater need for donations as a growing number of people were sheltering in and working from home.

She kept the blood drives going and, on Aug. 5, Sutherland and UDRI were recognized as “Crisis Heroes” by the Community Blood Center for continuing to support the center’s mission during the pandemic.

“I reached out to the CBC at the start of the pandemic to see if we should cancel our next scheduled drive, since many of our Curran Place employees were working from home, and I was afraid we might not get many volunteer donors,” said Sutherland, a program manager in applied corrosion technologies in the University of Dayton Research Institute’s sustainment technologies transition division. “I was also very concerned about possible risk to me or my family if I became infected.

“But the CBC said the need for donations had escalated, and they would take as many or as few donors as we could send them. I also learned about all the precautions that mobile collection site staff were taking to ensure the safety of donors and themselves, and I felt much better about it.”

Mark Pompilio, public relations and marketing manager for the CBC, said the early impact of the pandemic on overall blood collection was devastating. “Every one of our blood drive sponsors had to make hard decisions on how to proceed. By the end of June, 2020, 268 scheduled blood drives were canceled, representing a loss of 8,500 units.”

In July, Robin scheduled the first pandemic blood drive at UDRI and, contrary to her concern about low turnout, employee donations exceeded the drive goal. “The same thing happened with each drive after throughout the pandemic,” Sutherland said. “Even people who were working from home drove to the building to donate.”

Pompilio said UDRI’s six blood drives during the pandemic helped the CBC recover. “That’s why we’re honoring the University of Dayton Research Institute with the Crisis Hero award,” he said. “COVID-19 has been a public health crisis like we have never seen, and UDRI is a hero for helping us avoid the public health crisis of a blood shortage.”

Sutherland said she hopes other organizations will sponsor blood drives as well. “The need is still great,” she said.

August 5, 2021

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