Get Centered for Life With Us!
Providing a second chance at life to Rhode Islanders and people throughout New England with a safe and plentiful blood supply takes a sustained community effort from donors, blood drive sponsors, hospitals, and the Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC). Making sure there's enough blood and that it is safe is part of the equation. Together, we also ensure a blood supply that does not contribute to rapidly rising health care costs. To accomplish this mission in an ever-changing health care climate, RIBC launches its new Get Centered for Life program.
The program encourages members of the community to begin giving blood at any one of our six Blood and Platelet Donation Centers and will be working with small businesses and organizations to host blood drives at the centers. The reason: Babesiosis, a tick-borne disease with malaria-like symptoms and the number one transfusion-transmitted disease in the U.S. (visit ribc.org/babesiosis for more info.)
Earlier this year, the Blood Products Advisory Committee, a national organization that governs blood centers, made a formal recommendation that centers in states that are endemic for Babesiosis will need to test all whole blood and red blood cell collections for the Babesia parasite in 2016. Rhode Island is one of those states. Carolyn T. Young, MD, RIBC's chief medical officer, says, "The FDA will likely recommend providing antibody and nucleic acid testing, the cost of which is significantly more per unit of blood than any other infectious disease test we perform." Scott Asadorian, chief operating officer, explains, "RIBC still needs all blood donors as much as ever, but we need them to donate at our centers and larger community blood drives. The smaller drives -- ones held out in the community with goals of 5 to 14 units -- are no longer cost effective to operate because of Babesia testing." To offset some of the long-term costs of testing and to help other blood centers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that also need to test red cells, RIBC has renovated space for a new Babesia laboratory to become a testing site for other blood centers.
RIBC's six donation centers are located throughout the state and provide greater comfort, scheduling flexibility and choice to donors. For example, when donating at a center, you can choose to give a whole blood donation or try an automated blood donation of the specific component of blood (red cells, platelets or plasma) that is most need by patients based on your blood type.
The Get Centered for Life program is actively reaching out to community organizations to host blood drives at the centers. "Similar to our mobile blood drives, a staff member will go out to these organizations, educate and engage members in the importance of save lives through blood donation, and work with them to find convenient dates, times and appointment schedules that fit their needs," adds Asadorian.
Another feature of "getting centered" now mirrors what many mobile blood drive sponsors generously provide donors -- a little something for going the extra mile! In addition to existing donor appreciation programs like the Seasons' Pass program, RIBC, in partnership with local organizations, will offer all presenting center donors a chance to win various appreciation gifts each month.
"The very heart of our new Get Centered for Life program is getting patients in our community the blood donations they need to live longer and healthier lives. That hasn't changed at all. It's still the central to everything we do here," says Nicole Pineault, director of Donor Resources. If you are interested in becoming a part of the Get Centered for Life program, contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-248-5720 or learn how to sponsor a drive.