Last week, the Memorial Hospital Blood Donor Center recognized blood donors and businesses that hosted mobile blood drives during 2005 at a ceremony at the Antler’s Hilton.

Kathy Hook, donor resource coordinator for the Memorial Hospital Blood Bank, said people who gave at least a gallon of their blood (amounting to eight donations) were honored, along with 76 businesses and organizations that sponsored on-site blood drives. Other businesses were recognized for sponsoring drives where employees donated blood at the center.

Hook said more than 75 percent of the blood donations and blood products are a result of blood drives. Businesses usually have to employ at least 300 people to be eligible as an on-site mobile blood donor center.

Hewlett Packard, the largest area corporate sponsor, hosted six blood drives this year, she said.

Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson Air Force Base were recognized as well.

However, Hook said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration placed a donor deferral on military men and women and their families who spent time in Europe during specific years from the 1980s to the 1990s.

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“We lost about 25 percent of our donor base because of a minuscule risk of mad cow disease,” Hook said. The FDA also mandates that anyone who has spent time in Iraq must wait a year after returning to the states before donating blood.

“Only 5 percent of those eligible to donate blood actually do so,” Hook said. “That’s the national average, and Colorado is slightly lower.”

Sarah Carroll, who at age 14, received 13 units of blood at Memorial two years ago because of a severe bleeding ulcer, and her mother thanked the donors attending the ceremony for saving Sarah’s life. While Hook said most people relate blood donations to accident victims, there are many illnesses that require blood donations.

Individuals should call Memorial’s blood bank at 365-5411 for more information, and businesses and organizations interested in setting up mobile blood drives should call 365-2513.

Memorial Hospital transfuses 750 units of blood and blood products every month.

Air ambulances under new licensing requirements

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – the emergency medical and trauma services division – began licensing air ambulance services Feb. 1, as a result of SB 180, which the Legislature passed in 2000.

The bill was designed to improve safety, establish coordination among air ambulance agencies and improve care provided during in-air medical transport.

Memorial Hospital’s air ambulance program – the Memorial Star program – supports the licensure rules, said Sam Provenza, the flight program manager.

“We have completed our application for licensure for the Memorial Star helicopter,” Provenza said. “The ultimate goals of Colorado air ambulance licensure are safety, consistent standards of practice and communications between air medical programs. Our emphasis on safety, patient care and communication are in line with Colorado’s proactive approach to ensuring excellence in air ambulance services in the state.”

Penrose officials agree.

Flight for Life Colorado has worked with the CDPHE and other air ambulance programs for more than four years to implement the air ambulance licensure requirements, said Kathleen Mayer, program director.

“Carol Wichman, a registered nurse and the clinical coordinator for the Penrose-St. Francis base, is among those who have been very involved,” she said.

“Flight for Life Colorado strongly supports the new requirements, which will raise the standards for safety, crew member training and quality improvement among Colorado’s air ambulance programs. By adopting the internationally accepted standards of the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services, (CAMTS), Colorado has taken a huge step toward protecting patients who are typically too ill or too critically injured to be able to choose the program that will transport them.”

Mayer said staff credentials and education, and equipment and safety programs will be accredited by CAMTS.

“It will be the only route to licensure in Colorado,” she said.

Pikes Peak Hospital starts construction campaign

The Pikes Peak Regional Medical Center Association will launch a yearlong campaign Feb. 10 to raise the balance of money necessary to start construction on Teller County’s acute-care hospital.

The hospital is part of a 20-acre medical campus that is 1.5 miles west of Woodland Park. The site includes medical offices and a home care and hospice program.

The site development plan was approved by the county planning department in December. Volunteers will begin soliciting donations from Teller County residents and business owners.

PacifiCare Foundation donates $15,000

Care & Share Food Bank received a $10,000 donation from the PacifiCare Foundation to help acquire and transport emergency and supplemental food to people in need in Colorado Springs.

The foundation also donated $5,000 to Newborn Hope Inc., advocates for infants and pregnant mothers, for printing and distribution costs for 100 Spanish-language copies of its “Carrying to Term” booklet.

The PacifiCare Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. Employee donations fund the foundation.

Marylou Doehrman covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.