Blood donors can breathe a sigh of relief. In an exclusive to The Beacon, sources with the Red Cross confirmed that plans to shutter mobile blood drive services in Michigan have been canceled.
For some people, donating blood is like voting. It’s a civic duty to help our neighbors in their moment of most dire need. For others, it is a concrete way to literally “roll up your sleeves” and help following a disaster far away like the recent hurricanes that hit the East coast. Most regular blood donors, however, don’t have the time to travel to a Red Cross blood donation center, instead, donating at a mobile drive hosted at a local school, church or business.
Recently, that regular, routine way of helping almost came to an end, however. At the end of August, Michigan officials of the American Red Cross announced, “tentative plans,” to close down all blood collection services throughout most of the state. This stunning announcement was repeated in a number of local news sources at the time but did not garner much attention.
At the time, Red Cross officials stated that the plan was due to a decrease in demand for blood products as well as reorganization to increase the efficiency of blood donation collections. The plan would have eliminated 230 jobs throughout Michigan. Some of those affected actually live in the Portland area. Most of those jobs were nurses and lab technician positions responsible for running the mobile blood drives that come to local community gathering places. Under the plan, blood collections would continue at blood donation centers in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Flint.
Several Red Cross blood collections staff members who spoke to The Beacon confirmed however that the plan to eliminate jobs and was actually part of an ongoing contract fight between unions representing blood collections staffers and Red Cross management. As of September 25th, that “tentative plan” had become a firm plan: mobile blood drives would not happen anymore and 230 people would be out of a job. In fact, Red Cross staffers we spoke with had already started searching for new jobs. One longtime Red Cross employee, who lives in Portland, had already secured a new job working for McLaren Health Care out of Lansing.
Speaking to Red Cross management on October 4th, The Beacon learned that the evening before that a contract agreement was reached. The plan would restructure the geographic ranges blood collections staff work out of to increase efficiency. In a press release dated October 2nd, Todd Kulman, spokesperson for the American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region said, “The American Red Cross is pleased that we have reached an agreement with OPEIU, one of the Unions that represent the majority of our union staff in the Great Lakes Blood Services Region. We are now working diligently to determine the new structure and how blood collection operations will continue throughout the Region. We will continue the bargaining process with staff represented by other unions, specifically the IBT and AFSCME.”
Kullman continued saying that, “the Red Cross remains steadfast. We stand ready to provide assistance when and where needed, and will continue to collect and provide blood products for patients in need. In addition, we remain committed to our focus of providing disaster preparedness and response activities, services to the armed forces, veterans and their families, and our ongoing health and safety trainings.”
So, get ready to roll up your sleeve because Red Cross staff will be on the job ready to help you make a difference. The Knights of Columbus are hosting a blood drive Tuesday, October 9th, from 11:30 am to 5:15 pm at the K of C Hall at 690 Maynard Rd in Portland.
PHOTO: Stock photo courtesy U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff. Sgt. Michael M. Schocker
DISCLAIMER: When Jordan Smith is not writing for The Beacon, he teaches high school science at St. Patrick Catholic School where he also serves as the National Honor Society Advisor. The St. Patrick chapter of NHS hosts several Red Cross blood drives annually.