The North Bend Eagle


Volunteers keep the blood flowing locally

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 2/19/14

There is an American Red Cross Bloodmobile coming to visit North Bend Feb. 27.

Two faces that will be there are a constant when there is a blood drive in North Bend: Caryn Moser and Lois Otte.

Records that the chairmen have kept go back to 1972 when Jan Eaton and Jean Simons were chairmen. Then in 1977 it was Eaton and Audrey Chromy chairing the twice a year event.

Caryn Moser and Lois Otte pose in front the auditorium where they will be hosting a blood drive Feb. 27.

Caryn Moser worked at the bloodmobile canteen as a nurse in the late ‘70s before she was asked if she would co-chair the event in Septmeber 1981 with Nancy Goddard and Jan Crofton. For that blood drive the quota was 135 units of blood. The goal was surpassed with 191 units collected.

In Fall 1984 it was just Goddard and Moser listed as chairmen with Mary Le Arneal assisting. Goddard was last listed as a chairman in spring 1986. After the spring 1989 drive, Ann Minarick was serving as co-chairman with Moser.

September 1992 saw the first listing of Lois Otte as co-chairman of the North Bend blood drive.

Other changes include the frequency of the bloodmobile coming to North Bend. In 1972 there were two visits from the bloodmobile, in January and September.

Then in 1988 the ARC bloodmobile began visiting North Bend four times in a year: January, May, September and December. Now it has increased to five times a year.

The dates and number of visits are set by the American Red Cross in Omaha. The workers and supplies come from there also. The only local determining factor in the mix is the availability of the auditorium.

Besides the change in number of visits, Moser and Otte have seen other changes.

When Moser first started, the VFW Auxiliary would call people just to remind them to come donate. Now Moser and Otte do the calling, asking if the donors need appointment times.

When people arrived they used to sign in on a piece of paper. Now their cards are scanned and everything is on a computer.

Moser used to need two volunteer nurses. One to take temperature and pulse when the potential donor arrived. The other watched the donors at the canteen, making sure they drank water and ate if they had time. Now, the ARC workers monitor the donors from the start. The person in the canteen doesn’t have to be a nurse, just someone to watch the donors at the table during the required 15-minute sit before leaving.

Knowledge about HIV in the 1980s has changed a lot of the handling of the blood donations. Volunteers used to label bags and get them ready to be filled with blood. Now all this is done by an ARC worker. There is only one volunteer back in the donation area, the escort who waits to take the donor to the canteen once they are done giving blood.

The workers from the ARC includes a charge nurse and phlebotomists, medical professionals who do the actual procedure of drawing the blood. Where there used to be volunteers who would come to help unload the ARC truck, the ARC personnel do it themselves.

Now the phlebotomists screen a person (take temperature, hemoglobin, blood pressure, pulse and health history) before taking them back to draw the blood. There is orange juice available, but it is now self-serve.

Otte and Moser laugh when they remember the ARC’s change over to the computer as confusing at times. At one time the donors were alphabetized by first names, making phone calls to donors repetitive if they were in the same family.

“For a while there, our lists were set up differently every time we got them,” Otte said.

The blood drives have grown from twice a year to five times a year. Formerly, 190 units were drawn, but now with more frequent visits the goal is usually in the 70s or 80s.

“The need is always there,” Moser said. “Even more so now with all the medical advances – transplants, heart surgery, cancer treatment. Even ordinary events like childbirth and surgeries might require blood.”

Though the additional times are more work for them, they can always see the need for fresh blood. The shelf life of donated blood is only 42 days. With red blood cells able to regenerate in the body in six weeks, the ARC returns in about eight weeks, the required time between donations.

The day of the blood drive Otte usually arrives in North Bend at 9 a.m. She gets the key to the auditorium from city hall then goes grocery shopping, buying coffee, tea, pop and orange juice, which is all paid for by the North Bend Chamber of Commerce.

Moser takes her big cooler to Birchwood Manor to fill it with ice for use in the canteen and for emergencies.

The napkins are donated by the Platte Valley Bank.

Once they both get to the auditorium, they combine their two lists of people they called, setting up the appointment list.

The ARC workers arrive around 10:45 a.m., unload and set up their stations. There are usually 12 to 15 Red Cross workers who come out of Omaha. Once they are set up, some like to visit the canteen to get a meal before starting work.

The blood drives last from noon to 6 p.m. with Moser and Otte usually there the whole time, coordinating the two shifts of volunteers.

“The last hour used to be our busiest,” Moser said. “Now with appointments, it is slower. But if someone shows up at 6 p.m. willing to donate, we will take their blood.”

Otte encourages people to donate blood to find out things about themselves. Numerous tests are run on the blood before it is declared ready to transfuse. Otte found out her liver enzymes were slightly elevated during such a screening. Through follow up with her doctor, she had found out it is nothing to worry about, but the ARC is cautious on the side of safety.

Moser had donated over 10 gallons of blood, but can no longer give because of a positive test that her doctor said was negative but the ARC said once you’re positive, you can’t give. Other family members have stepped up and are donors.
Neither women has retirement in their sights.

“The need for blood is always there – that’s the bottom line,” Moser said. “People and procedures change, but the need doesn’t.”

The American Red Cross bloodmobile will be in North Bend on Thursday, Feb. 27. Moser and Otte would like to see a good turn out so that the North Bend, Morse Bluff area can do their part in helping others.

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