Lobero Theatre hosts blood drive
The Lobero Theatre held a new type of performance Thursday — not for entertainment, but for saving lives.
Vitalant, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit transfusion medicine organizations, held a COVID-19 compliant blood drive on the Lobero’s stage.
Because of the theater’s large size, Vitalant staff was able to maintain social distancing, sanitize all areas touched by donors and create a one way in, one way out path for donors, starting in the courtyard and ending on the stage.
Masks were required for all parties involved, and temperatures of staff and donors were monitored.
Blood donation has been dramatically impacted by the global pandemic for numerous reasons, the biggest being where organizations can hold blood drives.
“Mobile blood drives make up the majority of our production sales,” said Diane Frantela, the donor recruitment representative for Vitalant. “As soon as the stay-at-home order went into place, businesses closed, schools closed, churches closed, all places where we usually have blood drives. Things changed overnight.”
The west division of Vitalant, which includes all of California and northern Nevada, suffered a 33% hit at the height of the pandemic, meaning the division got 33% fewer units than normal.
Blood collection is already a challenge, with only 38% of the human population able to donate. And only 10% within that group choose to do so.
Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, Vitalant couldn’t collect 27,000-plus units of blood.
“Blood has been considered essential from the start,” Ms. Frantela said. “It’s always going to be needed. Losing so many collections at one time made us have to be creative.”
Luckily, she said, the community has stepped up to the plate. Vitalant centers are swamped with people wanting to set up an appointment to donate.
In addition, with the maximum capacity of the Lobero blood drive set at 36 people to stay within guidelines, Santa Barbara residents filled every spot within an hour of the event going public.
“We’re so thrilled the community has stepped up,” Ms. Frantela said. “It’s an unusual location to do this. It’s an unusual event for them to have here so it’s been a great team effort.”
On top of all this, Vitalant added another incentive for potential donors. Since June 1, all successful donations are being tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
“That has been a little enticement for donors because people really want to know if they have those antibodies,” Ms. Frantela said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
David Asbell has been the executive director of Lobero Theatre for 20 years, and said since the theater will have no audiences for the foreseeable future, he asked what they could do in the meantime.
“It was a no brainer to say ‘We’ve got a place. Let’s do this here,’” Mr. Asbell said. “We are part of the community, and we are here to do this exact type of thing.”
He said the theater is more than just a performing arts venue.
“We view ourselves, our staff and our board as stewards of this building and of the legacy, so we want to continue that,” Mr. Asbell said.
Scott Boniface is not only a fan of the Lobero, but also an avid blood donor, and made sure to donate at the event.
“I donate platelets regularly, about every third week,” he said. “As long as I’m healthy, it’s an easy thing to do. I’ve been to many shows here, so when I saw an opportunity to come on stage, I thought that was cool.”
To find out more information about Vitalant and/or schedule an appointment to donate, visit www.blood4life.org or call 805-542-8500.