ALBANY, Ga. -- The American Red Cross Donor Center at 1515 Dawson Road will close its doors Dec. 31. According to April Phillips, program manager of communications, the decision was several weeks in the making.
"Like many companies and non-profit organizations in the current economic climate, the Red Cross says it must regularly evaluate its business operations to determine where it can control costs. This year has been no exception," Phillips said. The five donation center employees will be given an opportunity to continue their careers with the Red Cross, she said.
The center, in Albany since 1994, is the only one out of 14 in Georgia slated for closure. The others continue to be reviewed. Phillips said that blood donations are down about 20 percent statewide, and cited the decline as a contributing factor for closing the facility.
Phillips says the current economic downturn may be a reason for the decline. Many people, she said, have become accustomed to donating on the way to or from their jobs. Since there are fewer people with jobs, that may have impacted donations, she said.
"We wanted to make sure we shared the decision with the community as quickly as we could and let them know that though the donor center is closing, we will remain in Albany and will continue to host regular blood drives," Phillips said.
There are monthly opportunities to donate blood at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, as well as mobile unit blood drives at multiple locations. Phillips said that a central donation center doesn't usually increase blood donations over other collection methods, but provides a "presence" -- a regular location for the dedicated donor.
"This (the closure) will not in any way impact our ability to meet the needs of patients in Albany and the Southwest Georgia area," Phillips said.
Randy Edwards, CEO, American Red Cross, Southern Blood Services Region, said the need for blood remains steady and because of a summer decrease in donations, the community faces a blood shortage. Edwards called for donations of every blood type.
Until its closing date, the center will continue to be open during normal hours. For staff training purposes, the facility will be closed next week, Phillips said.