Blood collection in N.S. hospitals down due to pandemic restrictions

·2 min read

A recent freedom of information request has found that the number of blood collections in Nova Scotia hospitals is down due the pandemic.

The province's New Democrats say the numbers show collections are about 17 per cent lower than normal across the province and down 24 per cent in Cape Breton.

Kendra Coombes, the NDP MLA for Cape Breton Centre, said her constituents are worried about delays in getting appointments.

"If they're not getting their blood work done in a timely manner, it could lead to undiagnosed conditions or leaving something untreated, so it's significant that it's down this low," she said. "I was surprised by the dramatic decline."

The NDP asked for the number of in-hospital blood collections before and after COVID-19 hit.

Nova Scotia's health authority provided numbers from Jan. 20-26, 2020 and Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2020.

Numbers drop by nearly 4,000 a day

Across the province, blood collections were down by nearly 4,000 a day. At hospitals in Cape Breton, the numbers were down just over 1,000 a day.

In an email, the health authority said blood collections have been available by appointment only to allow for physical distancing and infection control measures during the pandemic.

It said collections are down 75-80 per cent as a result of service slowdowns, but no one gets turned away and requests for urgent blood work are not delayed.

The health authority also said the freedom of information numbers do not count in-home blood collections, "which may account for fewer appointments to some degree."

Coombes said some of her constituents are complaining about difficulties getting an appointment.

"I haven't heard of anything of a serious nature as of yet, but I don't think we should wait until that happens to find a way to fix the problem," she said.