June 17, 2020

FORT LORAMIE, Ohio - Ohio had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 when St. Michael's Hall hosted its winter blood drive on Feb. 18.  The world has changed in the past four months, and donors saw noticeable changes on June 16 when St. Michael's opened its doors for the summer blood drive.

There was no ice cream social in the Donor Cafe at this year's summer blood drive (though there was ice cream to go).  No homemade sandwiches, and no Fort Loramie Community Service Club volunteers to serve them. Another tradition absent from the blood drive was the drawing for Country Concert tickets. In this strange summer of COVID-19 there will be no Country Concert. 

But true to St. Michael's, there were donors. A total of 308 registered, with 292 donating whole blood and another 16 giving platelets and plasma.

St. Michael's Hall blood drives are the largest in Shelby County. The three St. Michael's blood drives in 2019 totaled 870 donors and earned another Platinum Award from Community Blood Center for blood drive excellence.  Despite current safeguards that include mandatory face masks and appointments, social distancing and no open refreshments, St. Michael's is on Platinum pace once again.

"I haven't given since December," said Osgood donor Gail Wendel. "I feel comfortable. I'm a nurse. I've seen a lot of forward movement for sure. It was a scary situation for people. You have to take precautions. It's a virus, it could re-emerge. This is an education and I think it makes a difference. This is something you can do. If you don't feel comfortable then don't."

Shelby Bohman is a nursing student at Wright State University's Lake Campus who made her seventh lifetime donation Tuesday.  She started donating at Fort Loramie High School. "My first time was on my 16th birthday," she said, "and I got my driver's license the same day."

Her in-person nursing classes ended two days after spring break and the rest of the semester was online. "We had a clinical rotation that we had to do online in a virtual hospital," she said. "It was tough, but we worked through it."  This summer she's working part time in the Miami Valley Hospital ER and as an EMT.

Madison Rose from Fort Loramie finished her freshman year at Xavier University online. She decided to come with her mom Kelly to the blood drive and made her first lifetime donation.

"I'm pretty optimistic right now," said Kelly, who along with Madison wore the "Hero" face masks they received from CBC.  "All along, the number of cases has stayed down in this area."

"I've donated the same amount," said platelet donor Mike Doseck from New Bremen. "We take precautions at home and stayed at home. As things looked up, we're still cautious."

Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst is a regular at St. Michael's blood drives and arrived Tuesday wearing a patriotic face mask to make his 116th lifetime donation.

"I think they're going to restart relatively quickly," he said about the challenges to local governments and the economy. "The problem will be if cases spike again through the state. If we don't fall of the wagon, I think things will recover."