The closure of the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Albany has been moved to June 30, six months later than previously scheduled.
ALBANY — The closure of the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Albany has been moved to June 30, six months later than previously scheduled.
“The American Red Cross is committed to providing the safest and most reliable blood services to patients in need,” Randy Edwards, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region, said in a statement. “The decision to delay the closure of our Albany blood donation center is in an effort to help ensure that we can achieve this commitment in light of the current challenges with our blood and platelet inventory levels.”
A news release from the Red Cross indicated that this past summer, it experienced one of the worst blood shortages in more than a decade. Blood and platelet collections were further disrupted in September by flooding, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and other severe weather in many areas of the country.
On a typical year, the blood supply would begin to stabilize in September and October with the addition of high school and college blood drives, which account for more than 20 percent of blood donations each year — which did not occur as planned.
As it is, blood donations tend to drop during the holidays because donation appointments tend to get lost in the shuffle amongst seasonal activities.
“Donations in the winter are always a tad slow, and patients are constantly in need,” said Tracye Bryant, spokesperson for the blood services region. “We are actively encouraging folks. We need folks of all (blood) types to donate. We want to make sure patient needs are on the shelf.”
Like many companies and non-profit organizations in the current economic climate, the Red Cross must regularly evaluate its business operations to determine where it can control expenses. Such a review reportedly indicated that the current center in Albany is a costly operation in need of upgrades, and the location is no longer ideal for donor growth.
Officials have said they will continue to assess opportunities to relocate the Albany center, but that any relocation would also come at a significant cost as a new facility would need to be upfitted to meet regulatory and compliance requirements.
In the meantime, donors are still encouraged to make appearances at blood drives even after the center closes its doors.
“We want to make sure we maintain a presence in Albany,” Bryant said. “The Albany Donor Center has been a staple in the community, and we want to make sure donors understand our commitment.
“We are looking at all of our options available. The Red Cross will continue to be a viable part of the community.”
The Red Cross has said it will continue to implement strategies over the next few months to help ensure there are ample blood donation opportunities for existing donors in the area. These strategies include establishing routine blood drive locations in Albany and researching opportunities to collect platelets at blood drives.
There is a constant need for donors of all blood types. The region Albany is in needs approximately 1,200 blood and platelet donors each weekday to supply more than 120 hospitals throughout Georgia. Most individuals who are 17 years of age, at least 110 pounds and in generally good health are eligible to give blood. For more information on blood donations, to schedule an appointment or how to host a blood drive, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org.
The Albany Donor Center is located at 1515 Dawson Road. It will be open 1 p.m.-7 p.m. today and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.