Gift cards offered to address emergency blood shortage

To help address the current emergency blood shortage, all who come to give blood or platelets with the American Red Cross through Aug. 29 will receive a $5 Gift Card via email. Currently, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available and less than a two-day supply of type O blood.

When an emergency arises, it is the blood already on the shelves that saves lives. Only through the generosity of blood donors can the Red Cross provide hospitals with lifesaving blood to meet the ongoing and often, unpredictable needs of patients. The need for blood is constant. In the United States every two seconds blood is needed to help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give now by activating Amazon’s Alexa Red Cross Blood Skill by saying, “Alexa, find a blood drive,” or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 800-RED CROSS.

Westfields awards community grants

The Westfields Hospital & Clinic Foundation recently awarded $5,000 in grants to three nonprofit organizations: Basics for Local Kids, Five Loaves Food Shelf and The United Way-St. Croix Valley.

“Our community grant program is funded through the generosity of our employees and donors who are passionate about supporting the community around us," Jo Wrich, foundation director, said in a news release. "This year’s recipients were chosen based on their alignment with our mission to improve the health and well-being of patients, families, and community through partnerships and philanthropy.”

Westfields offers opportunities to apply for grants twice each year, in April and October. Applications are available by calling the foundation office at 715-243-2942. Westfields Hospital & Clinic, part of HealthPartners, serves western Wisconsin.

Hudson Hospital Foundation hosts 'Play Date' to support literacy

Hudson Hospital Foundation will host its first Play Date Saturday, Sept. 14, at Weitkamp Park in Hudson. The free event – from 9 a.m. to noon – will celebrate Literacy Month and include storytelling, snacks, games and music. All are welcome.

“We’re excited to celebrate with families and the community the importance of reading, singing and playing, and can’t think of a better place to do that than in Weitkamp Park," Tessa Boury, development officer with Hudson Hospital Foundation, said in a news release.

In 2016, Hudson Hospital Foundation raised funds to purchase and build Hudson’s first all-inclusive universal playground at Weitkamp Park. Universal playgrounds are built to promote integrated play for all children, including those with special needs. The playgrounds are designed to meet seven guiding principles: fair, included, smart, independent, safe, active and comfortable.

Play Date attendees are encouraged to bring gently used children’s books to the Sept. 14 event to stock the Little Free Library at Weitkamp Park.

CDC grant to expand Minnesota program for measuring children’s chemical exposures

Minnesota Department of Health is among six health departments nationwide to win a new cooperative grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will allow the state to expand its biomonitoring program for measuring children’s exposures to chemicals of concern.

Biomonitoring tests chemicals in people and is an increasingly important tool in public health, according to a news release. Statewide biomonitoring can help identify groups at risk for potentially harmful chemical exposure, and inform and evaluate policies and programs that reduce those exposures.

The targeted funding will amount to just over $4 million over five years. Using CDC methods and technical support, MDH will test participants’ urine for different chemicals that may affect child development, including:

  • Metals found in drinking water, air pollution and some foods and products.
  • Pesticides used to control pests in agriculture and around the home.
  • Phthalates found in personal care products, toys and some foods.
  • Flame retardants found in household products like furniture and toys.