Red Cross may limit blood collection

ALPENA — The American Red Cross recently released statements discussing the tentative decision to limit blood collection in the 65-county Great Lakes Blood Services Region, including northern Michigan.

In a statement, Chris Hrouda, president of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services, said the tentative decision to limit operations will be mostly for mobile blood drives starting in November 2018. The limited areas specifically include Lansing, Muskegon, Petoskey, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Kentwood/Grand Rapids.

Hrouda said those limitations would not affect availability of Red Cross blood products in the state, and that the decision is based on a decline in demand.

“This decision is in response to a continued industry-wide decline in the demand for blood products and the need for consolidation of operations to ensure we can deliver cost-effective and reliable products and services for patients in need,” Hrouda said in the statement. “These changes would allow us to focus our Biomedical Services in other geographies that generate more concentrated efficiencies and a better economic profile.”

Those statements come about a month after it was reported to The Alpena News that there was a demand for blood donations.

“Blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” Alesia Willobee, account manager in donor recruitment for the American Red Cross, Great Lakes Region, told The News. “So, more donations are needed now to prevent delays in urgent medical care to vulnerable patients.”

With the consolidation announced recently, about 230 Red Cross employees would be terminated. Hrouda said they regret the effects it will have on the families involved, and they are willing to help former employees find new jobs.

Todd Kulman, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, also stated that union negotiations were an additional factor in the consolidated blood collection in the Great Lakes Blood Services region.

“The American Red Cross engaged in good faith decision bargaining with the unions representing some of our Great Lakes Blood Services Region staff to reach a finalized decision concerning the partial closure of the Region.” Kulman said. “The parties discussed several alternative options. The Red Cross concluded decision bargaining with OPEIU and provided a final offer that would allow us to continue operating in the Great Lakes Blood Services Region in a consolidated capacity. Discussions with the Teamsters continue.”

Going forward, Hrouda said the Red Cross will continue its life-saving efforts in the state, and they will focus on disaster preparedness, services for military members, veterans and their families as well as continued trainings.

Kaitlin Ryan can be reached at kryan@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 989-358-5693.