Blood Donation Center Transitioning To Red Cross

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January 02, 2019
By SHELBY MERTENS
Daily News-Record  12/29/18
 
HARRISONBURG — The blood donation center in Harrisonburg is reopening on Wednesday as an American Red Cross facility following the national blood donation and disaster relief organization’s acquisition of Virginia Blood Services in November.
The former Virginia Blood Services donation center, located at 182 Neff Ave., will begin collecting platelets when it opens under the Red Cross name, but full blood donations won’t be accepted immediately.
“Our staff is still training,” said Bernadette Jay, spokeswoman for the Red Cross’ Mid-Atlantic and Appalachian Blood Services region. “You can donate at other areas in the community with blood drive sponsors.”
Area hospitals, including Sentara RMH Medical Center, will now be serviced by the Red Cross.
Since its inception in 1974, Virginia Blood Services operated eight donation centers in Virginia and held 2,700 blood drives each year. The Red Cross was its main competitor.
The Institute for Transfusion Medicine in Pittsburgh purchased the nonprofit in 2010, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The blood banking company merged with Blood Systems, now called Vitalant, in 2017.
“We are grateful for the more than four decades of support and partnership that Virginia Blood Services has received from the communities we have had the pleasure of serving,”
Todd Cahill, regional director of Virginia Blood Services, said in statement, according to the Times-Dispatch.
Jay said about 80 percent of Virginia Blood Services employees were offered positions with the Red Cross. Vitalant helped laid-off employees with job search assistance, Jay said.
Donors, Jay said, will not notice any major changes in the transition besides a new Red Cross logo.
The acquisition benefits the Harrisonburg community because the Red Cross brings a national network of blood donors if a certain blood type isn’t available locally, she said.
“I think the most important thing for people to understand is when they donate blood, the local needs are prioritized,” Jay said. “Because we are national, we can get blood to where it’s needed right away. ... There’s really not an organization that is able to do what the American Red Cross can do.”
Eligible donors can visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-733-2767 to schedule an appointment to donate at the Harrisonburg center. T-shirts will be given to those who donate through Jan. 6.
“This time of the year when so many people are enjoying time with their family,” she said. “There’s still a constant need for blood, so we just encourage people to go to the website, schedule an appointment and help someone in need celebrate another year with their families.