Some CT hospitals stop collecting plasma to treat COVID-19
A surplus of plasma used to treat the coronavirus has led to one local health system suspending collections, but donation centers could reopen as cases surge in other states.
Nuvance Health — the health system that includes Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon hospitals — has announced it will stop collections at its Plasma Donation Centers for “the near term.” Nuvance had collection centers at Norwalk and Danbury hospitals in Connecticut and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The health system’s centers have more than 600 units of plasma stored for future use.
Nuvance had previously suspended collections at the Danbury and Vassar Brothers locations and announced this week that Norwalk will also stop accepting donations.
Last month, Daniel Cruser, chairman of the pathology and laboratory medicine service line for Nuvance, said the system had planned to keep the Norwalk center open for the forseeable future.
However, Nuvance said in a statement this week that the donations were no longer needed.
“The program is no longer actively collecting donations due to a decline in COVID-19 cases in New York and Connecticut, in addition to a sizable supply of plasma already in reserves,” the statement said.
After working with the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross to get plasma donations at the start of the pandemic, Nuvance opened its own donor centers in April. Plasma contains antibodies that medical experts believe can fight infection and potentially help critically ill patients fighting COVID-19.
According to a news release, 302 patients were treated with convalescent plasma across the Nuvance Health system, both through in-house donations and those from the New York Blood Center and American Red Cross.
More than 2,100 people have been registered in the Nuvance database as potential donors. Though the Nuvance centers are not collecting plasma donations, the registry will remain open if there is a future need.
Nuvance officials said one or more of the donation centers could also reopen for research purposes.
Nuvance has been involved in the Mayo Clinic convalescent plasma research protocol for its hospitalized patients and is now participating with Johns Hopkins to treat non-hospitalized patients with convalescent plasma. The new study may necessitate reopening one or more of the donation centers.
The centers could reopen to help treat patients in other states, where COVID-19 cases are surging, said Marcela Rojas, a spokeswoman for Nuvance.
“Those needs will factor in our strategic planning as we explore opportunities to make this program viable and sustainable beyond our own health system,” she said Tuesday in an email.
At Stamford Hospital, which was the first Connecticut facility to offer the treatment, there are no plans to change its plasma collection program.
Andrea Jodko, a spokeswoman for Stamford Health, said the system partners with the New York Blood Bank and the American Red Cross for plasma donation.
Stamford Health began treating eligible COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma therapy in early April. It also received a $50,000 donation from the Werth Family Foundation to help further research and treatment using convalescent blood plasma.