Editorial: Red Cross should keep mobile blood drives open

  • Mary Corduff, left, and Grace Ziobrowski with the American Red Cross chat with Ann Brooks of Florence and Michael Lucey of Easthampton while they donate in the Red Cross Bloodmobile parked at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in 2016. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 8/26/2019 7:30:13 PM

News that the American Red Cross, citing challenging economic conditions, is pondering eliminating its mobile blood drive services in western and central Massachusetts should worry us all.

Red Cross officials this month said that the “tentative” decision to stop mobile blood collections at two of its seven chapters statewide, which includes 800,000 residents in the state’s four western counties, is a cost-cutting move. As many as 68 jobs will be affected.

We hope officials at the regional agency that provides so many vital services to our residents have a change of heart as they finalize this decision.

The Red Cross routinely sends out press releases and sounds alarm bells about its need for blood, which it collects and sells to area hospitals. And people typically respond. But eliminating mobile blood collection services held at common gathering places like business parking lots, churches, schools and community centers will make it harder for well-meaning residents to raise their hands to help.

If this decision goes through, people would have to travel to the organization’s donation centers in Springfield and Worcester to give blood. Let’s face it — most won’t do that.

It’s disappointing that Red Cross officials aren’t being more forthcoming about the thought process behind the potential move. A spokeswoman told the Gazette last week that the nonprofit would not grant interviews or say when a final decision might be made.

In a letter to doctors, the Red Cross said its decision is being driven by the need to consolidate its operations to generate greater efficiencies and reliable products and services for patients.

That’s awfully vague. Many people’s natural response is to help, but how can they help if they don’t know what the need is? A more open dialogue with the community would prove useful.

Red Cross officials did say that all scheduled blood drives are taking place and that there’s still a need for people to donate. They also said that the nonprofit will still contract to supply blood to hospitals.

We hope that’s true, but we can’t see how grounding the bloodmobiles and asking people to drive to Springfield won’t lead to more blood shortages and pleas for help.

Cooley Dickinson Hospital and Baystate Medical Center both hold regular bloodmobile donation events, but CDH offcials told the Gazette that the Red Cross plans to possibly cancel traveling blood drives is concerning because the hospital gets 80 percent of its blood from the Red Cross.

Hospital officials said the availability of the amount and types of blood needed is a national concern, and that reducing the supply will only exacerbate this shortage.

Earlier this summer, the national Red Cross in Washington, D.C., issued an emergency need for eligible individuals of all blood types to give immediately. The plea said that blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

The organization said that every two seconds, someone needs blood, and that every 30 seconds, someone needs platelets in the U.S.

And in June, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to encourage donors — especially new donors and those who have not donated in the past years — to give blood or platelets during the challenging summer months.

For some people, donating blood is a civic duty and a concrete way to literally “roll up your sleeves” and help. Many regular blood donors, however, rely on a mobile drive to fulfill that duty.

On its website, the Red Cross states that the need for blood is constant and that contributions are important for a healthy and reliable blood supply. “You will feel good knowing you’ve helped change a life.”

We agree. So why make it harder for them us do just that?

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy