Red Cross expects to cut mobile blood drives

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 200 people would lose their jobs if a “tentative” American Red Cross plan moves forward.

The American Red Cross said Wednesday it is tentatively planning to limit its operations, mainly mobile blood drives, starting November 1.

The changes would affect the Great Lakes Blood Service Region, which includes Lansing, Muskegon, Petoskey, Flint, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids/Kentwood.

The organization says the changes will have no impact on the availability of its blood products in the state. It will continue to collect blood donations at their locations in Flint, Lansing and in the metro Detroit area.

The Muskegon Blood Donation Center would close if the plan moves forward.

“This decision is in response to a continued industry-wide decline in the demand for blood products and the need for consolidation of operations to ensure we can deliver cost-effective and reliable products and services for patients in need,” President of the American Red Cross Biomedical Services Chris Hrouda said in a statement.

The American Red Cross said around 230 employees would lose their jobs because of the change.

“We deeply regret the loss of jobs and know these changes would affect the lives of our employees and their families. We are committed to doing the most we can to help make this proposed transition as smooth as possible, including reaching out to area employers to help affected employees find new jobs,” Hrouda’s statement continued.

WEST MICHIGAN EMPLOYEES EFFECTED

Mobile blood drives are the main focus of the cuts.

Workers like Todd Dibble, a mobile unit assistant with American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan, found out the news during a mandatory meeting Wednesday morning.

“We all were blindsided by this,” he told 24 Hour News 8. “We really did not expect anything like this to happen. We expected the need for blood to trump, no matter what was going on.”

Dibble said he knew there were ongoing union negotiations, but didn’t expect that to include possible termination.

The company’s use of the word “tentative” isn’t sitting well with Dibble.

“Tentative was used so strongly in the communication this morning,” he said. “Is it going to happen or isn’t it?”

Dibble and more than a dozen coworkers met for lunch after the meeting. He said employee morale took a huge hit.

“There’s 15 people in that building right now that we’re having lunch together (and) I’m trying to get them to the point where quit talking about it,” he said.

Mobile blood drives were paused statewide Wednesday, according to Dibble. As they return Thursday, he expects Wednesday’s news to linger in the background.

“As of tomorrow morning, it’s business as usual,” said Dibble. “We are collecting blood until November when they expect all the ends to be tied together.”

Officials with the American Red Cross said the plans are tentative because they are legally obligated to allow unions to propose alternatives and bargain before making a decision.

NEED FOR BLOOD

James Wilson, president of Michigan Blood, said that hospitals are trying to transfuse less blood, but said there’s still a great need for blood donations across the state.

Michigan Blood conducts more than 3,700 blood drives per year.

Those blood drives in the field provide 70 percent of their donations, which they supply to nearly every West Michigan hospital.

“If we didn’t have mobile drives we wouldn’t be able to collect the blood we collect,” Wilson said.

Wilson told 24 Hour News 8 that he hopes to partner with American Red Cross to see how they can help if the cuts move forward.

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