KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As everyday life continues changing, so are the precautions that essential businesses are taking. At MEDIC Regional Blood Center, the nonprofit is monitoring guidelines and taking added steps to keep everyone in the community safe during this pandemic.

More: MEDIC Regional Blood Center: ‘Safe to continue donating amid coronavirus concerns.’

People wanting to donate blood must now schedule an appointment.

Inside MEDIC’s waiting room, there are signs up spacing each seat for social distancing and in the donor room, there are signs on the donor chairs for 6-feet of space as well.

“We have seen most people who come in and donate are wearing a mask,” said Kristy Altman with MEDIC Regional Blood Center.

Altman says their phlebotomists are now wearing personal protective masks called N95s, “We wanted our staff to feel safe and we want the donors to feel safe, so they all have masks.”

Before a donor can get to the chair, there’s a layer of protection happening at the front door.

“You have to have your temperature checked. So, if you’re a staff member, donor, visitor, you have to have your temperature checked, it has to be below 99.5 degrees for you to continue on into the building. If it’s above 99.5, staff members are asked to go home, take the day off and keep checking their temperature and monitoring their symptoms. Any kind of donor or visitor is just asked to come back when they feel healthy, well and they don’t have a temperature,” explained Altman.

Before someone can donate, MEDIC does a mini physical where they look for coughing, nose draining or if the donor is having a hard time breathing.

  • People cannot donate if they are feeling ill.
  • Donors are asked if they’ve traveled outside the country.
  • Blood collected at MEDIC is always tested for various infectious diseases.
  • MEDIC is following guidelines from the Knox County Health Department, the FDA and other governing bodies.

MEDIC says the FDA has reported that there is no known risk of transmission of COVID-19 through the blood donation process or from blood transfusions.

During this pandemic, Altman says they have had to cancel many of their mobile clinics, instead they’re doing blood drives inside and fortunately their blood supply is fairly stable.

“We’re going to community centers, municipal buildings, churches, different areas where we can set up for a few days at a time. So, where we might be able to see 40 people in a day on a bus pre-COVID-19, now we’ll be able to do that over the course of a few days at these locations,” added Altman.

Guidelines are changing fast and we’re told MEDIC is meeting everyday preparing to make this an even safer environment.

“We serve 25 hospitals in 22 counties so when you come in to donate red blood cells, platelets or plasma you are truly helping your neighbor because traumas are still happening, cancer patients still need treatments,” said Altman.

MEDIC Regional Blood Center is not a healthcare provider and Altman says they cannot test people for COVID-19.