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Filling a need: Kenosha tavern to host blood drive
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Filling a need: Kenosha tavern to host blood drive

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The past three months have been filled with firsts, nationally and globally, as people step up to help one another in their communities.

One local tavern is no exception. On Saturday, Coins Sports Bar, 1714 52nd St., in partnership with Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin, is sponsoring a blood drive to shore up the area’s blood supplies.

The idea to host a blood drive at Coins began shortly after the tavern’s co-manager Mark Gascoigne underwent a liver transplant about three months ago at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.

“I wanted to do something in honor of Mark,” said Tim Gascoigne, who co-manages the tavern.

The plan went on hold during Wisconsin’s two-month Safer At Home order and was revived after the reopening of Coins on May 13.

With the reopening of businesses following the overturning of the shutdown order, Coins reached out to Versiti to resume plans for its blood drive.

Versiti Regional Manager Nikki Chalsma said some 4,000 blood drives have been canceled due to COVID-19-related facilities closures.

To make up for the loss of schools and churches that usually hold blood drives, Chalsma says Versiti blood centers in some states have looked to closed restaurants.

“We’ve had to get creative,” she said.

Coins’ blood drive is the first time the blood center has held one at a tavern.

Saturday’s blood drive comes just as blood banks are experiencing resurgence in need, Chalsma said.

During the pandemic, hospitals put elective surgeries on hold so the need was not that great, but “the need for blood has ramped up recently in response to the rescheduling of postponed elective surgeries and new trauma cases,” Chalsma said.

Chalsma says, because blood donation is an essential activity, donors came into Versiti’s 39th Avenue location during the pandemic.

“Shortly after the lockdown began we saw an influx — people looking for something to do — but now it’s harder to get people to come in, and locations that would have can’t yet.”

Although Coins was closed temporarily, Chalsma said the blood center “kept the blood drive scheduled because blood donation is an essential activity.”

Blood drive protocol

Saturday’s blood drive will be conducted according to CDC protocols in addition to its standard health procedures, Chalsma said.

Patrons and the phlebotomists drawing blood will all be required to wear masks, and blood donation stations will be spaced six feet apart.

Temperature checks and health screenings, already standard procedure for blood donation, also will be in place, Chalsma noted.

Special logistics may mean Versiti staff will not set up as much equipment as it would for a regular drive, and there may not be as many donors as usual, she said.

As a first-time blood drive at Coins, the number of those participating are unknown, but Chalsma plans to send eight blood center staff to handle an estimated 50 to 60 prospective donors.

Chalsma noted that on June 15 Coins and its sister bar, Duke’s Country Saloon, 2324 18th St., will host a blood drive to replace an annual blood drive normally organized by local churches.

Gascoigne said that a special seating area would be available for blood donors, as well as a bag lunch containing “something from the grill,” chips and soda.

Although the blood drive is a first, hosting benefit fundraisers is not new to the taverns, said Gascoigne. “That’s what we do is charity,” he said.

“We’re really excited,” Chalsma said. “This is an opportunity to provide education to the community as to why it’s important to donate blood and that blood donation is an essential activity.”

Prospective blood donors can sign up online for a time slot by contacting Coin’s social media manager, Samantha MacKenzie, at 817-739-5599 or by email at samantha.enid21@gmail.com.

Walk-in donors will also be accommodated.

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