Canadian Blood Services temporarily suspending blood collection in Kingston

Canadian Blood Services says it is temporarily postponing blood collection events in eastern Ontario, including the cities of Ottawa and Kingston, a move it says is necessary in order to accommodate a controlled shut down of the Ottawa facility where blood donations in the region are processed before distribution to hospitals.

Canadian Blood Services says that the Concourse Gate facility closure is due to a small cluster of COVID-19 infections in that workplace. The impacted site is not accessible to the public or donors.

Canadian Blood Services says it began notifying donors with affected appointments on Feb. 5, Those donors are encouraged to re-book their appointments after Feb.14, when production and distribution are expected to resume.

“Canadian Blood Services launched this temporary and controlled suspension of its operations at Concourse Gate this week following the notification of five confirmed cases of COVID-19 involving employees and contractors at the site,” the organization said. “An integrated case management team with representatives from across Canadian Blood Services is working closely with Ottawa Public Health, which has primary responsibility for the investigation(s) of the cases at the affected site and for notifying individuals if they have been exposed and require isolation or asymptomatic testing.”

“Our decision to temporarily close our Concourse Gate site and postpone collection events was steered by our commitment to, above all else, safeguard employees, our operations and our essential products and
services for the patients who rely on us,” said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services in the notice.

“Canadian Blood Services has a national network of blood collection, distribution and business continuity plans designed for situations like these. Working with our regional hospital partners, the national blood inventory ensures Canadian patients will continue to receive blood products at their local hospital regardless of where they are collected. Changes to collection events do not affect Canadian Blood Services’ ability to provide a safe and secure supply of blood products that patients can rely on to improve their health and well-being,” the organization said.

Fresh blood processing and distribution at the Concourse Gate facility will be reopened once further assessment has been completed and in accordance with public health guidance, the organization said. A deep cleaning of the site has been conducted and the organization anticipates the facility could open after Feb.14, but this could change as more information becomes available.

The facility also handles stem cells used for patient transplants. The organization said that stem cell operations at the site will continue only to meet the needs of a small number of patients who are in the middle of their treatment. Further support will come from the Edmonton stem cell operations site, according to Canadian Blood Services, as the two sites are designated backups for one another.

“We made the decision to close out of an abundance of caution. We plan for disruptions like these and benefit from a national network that enables the rest of the country to come to the aid of an impacted region or province,” said Dr. Sher. “We are confident the work we have invested in our business continuity plans and capabilities will enable us to continue to deliver lifesaving products and services to those in need.”

“We are grateful to blood donors for their ongoing support during these unprecedented times and we look forward to welcoming them back once we are able to re-open our facility,” said Dr. Sher.

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