Red Cross issues emergency need for blood, platelets

A donation shortfall over the winter holidays has prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year's than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. During this period, about 1,350 fewer blood drives were hosted by volunteer sponsor groups than required to meet patient needs as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

"Many people may not realize that blood products are perishable, and the only source of lifesaving blood for patients is volunteer blood donors," said Cliff Numark, senior vice president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. "When donations decline - as they did around the holidays and may further decline if severe winter weather and flu season pick up - lifesaving medical treatments could be delayed."

All eligible donors, especially platelet donors and blood donors with type O blood, are urged to make an appointment to give in the coming days to help restock the shelves for hospital patients. Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 800-RED CROSS. Volunteer blood drive hosts are also critically needed to prevent the shortage from worsening this winter.

Nominations open for Dakota County achievement award

Dakota County Public Health is seeking nominations for the annual Public Health Achievement Awards, recognizing contributions of Dakota County residents who devote their time, energy and talents in their communities to improve health. The awards will be presented before the Dakota County Board of Commissioners April 9 in continued celebration of National Public Health Week. Community health leaders are recognized in three categories: youth, individual and community group (coalition, partnership or organization). Winners are selected based on their leadership, contribution to solutions to public health problems, collaboration, advocacy, role modeling and evidence of impact. The nomination deadline is Wednesday, March 6. For a nomination form and more information, visit, search Achievement Award, or call 651-554-6100.

Smoking declines stall in Minnesota: Study

Findings from the latest Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey show that Minnesota's progress in reducing smoking has stalled. The state's adult smoking rate has declined to 13.8 percent, down from 14.4 percent in 2014. The decrease was not statistically significant and is the smallest decline seen since the MATS study began in 1999. Conducted by ClearWay Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health, MATS surveyed Minnesota residents about smoking, e-cigarette and other tobacco use, and secondhand smoke exposure.

"Minnesota has long been a leader in tobacco prevention and cessation, but we are seeing that progress stalling," said lead researcher Ann St. Claire, associate director of evaluation and survey research for ClearWay Minnesota. "Research shows that policies like price increases and clean indoor air laws help drive down smoking rates, and we've seen the impact of those policies in past MATS reports. Today, we must continue using proven approaches to reduce the smoking rate, such as additional price increases and raising the tobacco age to 21."

The rate of e-cigarette use among all adults remained unchanged from 2014 (6 percent in 2018 compared to 5.9 percent in 2014). However, while the rate of cigarette smoking among young adults aged 18-24 fell significantly, from 15.3 percent to 8.5 percent, e-cigarette use in this age group nearly doubled, from 12.8 percent to 21.9 percent, reflecting trends also seen in 2017's Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey.

The report can be viewed at

Free class on care planning in Northfield


Northfield Hospital + Clinics is offering a free class to help individuals understand advance care planning and get a start on their own plan. Advance care planning is the process of thinking about and communicating health care wishes in case illness or injury prevents decision-making.

Class participants will learn about advance care planning and how to complete a health care directive. The free class starts with 60 minutes of education followed by 30 minutes of assistance in completing a health care directive. It is led by Certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator Susan Lohmann.

Sessions are offered 1:30 to 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11 and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Northfield Hospital, Meeting Room A, 2000 North Ave. Registration is required to contact participants in case the class is cancelled. Contact Lohmann at 507-646-1314 or at least 72 hours in advance.

Parent resource group meets in Hastings

NAMI Minnesota - the National Alliance on Mental Illness - provides parent resource groups to help parents discover resources to meet the challenges of raising a child with mental illness, learn coping skills and develop problem-solving skills. The groups are facilitated by a parent who has a child with a mental illness and who has been trained to lead support groups.

A parent resource group meets on the third Saturday of each month, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, 1450 4th St. W., in Hastings. Free child care and snacks are provided. For information, contact NAMI at 651-645-2948.