Red Cross shutting down Waco blood donation center

Friday, December 28, 2012 - 2:22pm

After several years of successful operations in the Waco community, the American Red Cross will be closing its blood donor center next month. However, the organization emphasizes that they will not discontinue collecting drives, as they will still hold mobile blood drives.

“We’re not leaving the Waco area by any means. We’re just moving toward a more mobile donation center,” said Jan Hale, Communications Manager for the Southwest Region of the American Red Cross.

“Actually, what they’re doing is just shifting from in-house collection to actual mobile blood drives, which is kind of what they’re best at,” said Heart of Texas Red Cross Chapter’s executive director, Mark Felton.

Hale says the tough economy prompted the tough decision. The blood center, located at 4224 Cobbs Drive in Waco, will officially close its doors on January 31, 2013.

“While we feel this is a difficult decision for us, we feel like it’s the best decision to make,” said Hale.

Donations from the blood center typically supplied the needs for many Dallas area hospitals, as the center was not the primary provider for local hospitals. Hale says The American Red Cross attempted to adjust days and hours for donations at the blood center, in an effort to keep it thriving. However, she says donors appeared to favor mobile centers.

“Our donors just want us to come to them,” said Hale.

The closing of the center also means local platelet donations will not be collected by the Red Cross. However, Hale says the organization urges donors to become whole blood donors again. Or, donors can still go to Carter BloodCare.

Hale insists the change will not disrupt services provided through the American Red Cross in the area, as the changes only apply to blood collection. “It does not affect chapter functions in the Waco community. They will go completely uninterrupted. It just affects how we collect blood,” said Hale.

The Red Cross will also be closing blood donation centers in Wichita Falls and Farmers Branch. Hale says local churches or organizations who are interested in hosting blood drives can contact them to schedule mobile donations.

The change will result in the loss of four full-time employees in Waco; however they are “encouraged to apply for other Red Cross positions throughout the region”. For now, the Waco chapter is not sure what they will do with the extra space that the loss of the donation center will leave behind. However, part of the building is leased to the United Way. Felton, says he’s excited to see what changes they come up with for the space.

Felton also says the Red Cross will continue to focus on disaster relief, education, CPR and other training, and other programs they are currently involved with.

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