May 18

Manhattan Mechanical Services hosts blood drive at East Chicago Facility

As local hospitals struggle with blood donation shortages in the face of the pandemic, local industrial contractor springs into action.

Manhattan Mechanical Services strives to positively impact the local community, taking pride in building relationships when working with various organizations. When hearing from Versiti Blood Center of Illinois of the dire need for blood within local hospitals, company management felt an immediate call to action.

On May 3, Manhattan Mechanical hosted a blood drive at its East Chicago facility in response to the declared emergency appeal for blood in the Northwest Indiana region.

“We wanted to see what we can do,” says Human Resources specialist Britni Willis. “Giving blood is a small act of kindness that goes a long way without money out of your pocket. What is there to lose?”

According to Versiti Illinois representative Coraima Applegate, Northwest Indiana declared an emergency appeal for blood on March 27. The organization directly supplies blood to the Franciscan and Community Health Networks in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana region.

This appeal indicates that these hospitals have dropped to only two to three days in blood donation supply. Once the supply declines further, their status changes from emergency appeal to an emergency need, placing hospitals at risk should a major incident occur.

Donor numbers decline in the face of pandemic

Researchers offered reasons why donations have tapered off.

One is the increase in COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the region. With a lack of understanding whether or not donating is still a possibility between vaccinations, people are opting out of donating entirely.

According to Versiti Illinois’ Applegate, people can donate 48 hours after receiving any COVID vaccination. Along with the vaccination comes the possibility of donor numbers declining due to exposure to the COVID virus itself.

Another reason for the lack of donors is the desire to return to normalcy from the pandemic. This shifts the general public’s mindset away from contributing to the community’s needs.

Also, high school and college students account for 35% of blood donations. Due to the effects of the pandemic, these students are unable to attend school, directly affecting donation supply.

Manhattan Mechanical jumps into action

Through social media posts and flyers distributed throughout the community to local businesses, restaurants, libraries and schools, Manhattan Mechanical actively promoted the blood drive to draw in as many as possible, offering donors the choice to walk in or schedule an appointment.

“Imagine your brother, sister, mom, dad, etc. needed blood, and there wasn’t any to save their life,” Willis explains. “I would never want to experience that, so I know that I donate when I can.”

COVID guidelines were in place as donors arrived at the East Chicago facility, where a classroom was used to promote social distancing. Masks were required, and temperature checks and COVID questionnaires were distributed upon arrival.

Once pre-screening was complete, donors were directed to one of two chairs and greeted by staff phlebotomists, dressed in PPE. (As a precaution, Versiti team members are COVID-tested frequently.) After donation, snacks were provided as the chairs were disinfected for the next donor.

Manhattan Mechanical’s efforts increase as demand continues 

Manhattan Mechanical is not done yet. A second blood drive has been scheduled for August 3 at the same East Chicago location with hopes to supply local hospitals that are still in dire need of a sustainable blood supply.

With as many hands on deck, Manhattan Mechanical and the community can make a positive and significant impact on blood supply needs and, most importantly, on many lives.

“Every two seconds in the United States, somebody needs blood,” says Applegate. “Blood is an irreplaceable resource. We can’t manufacture it. Nothing can replace human blood. All it takes is one hour-max to save three lives.”

We encourage all Manhattan Mechanical Services employees and partners to participate in the upcoming August 3 blood drive. For more information, or to find out how your organization can participate, contact Britni Willis at 815-478-9940 or

To learn more about how blood donation can change lives, click here!