BLOOD BANKS: Supply Threatened by Lack of Funding
Blood Centers of California, a not-for-profit organization that handles more than 90% of the state's blood supply, reports that blood banks in California faced losses of almost $33 million over three years. Shrinking funds are leading to a reduction in service at 14 of California's 18 major blood centers, the BCC says. Other problems include managed care and the governmental changes to the blood supply business, such as inadequate reimbursements and higher operating costs -- including costs incurred because of mandatory testing and screening of blood. Lack of funding is also restricting the number of blood donor drives, which could affect the state's blood supply (Baltimore Sun, 11/21).
One Day Strike Raises More Issues
Last week, a San Jose American Red Cross labor dispute resulted in a one-day strike. Union workers warned of a potential blood- shortage in case of a major accident or natural disaster. The strike stems from the fact that blood collected in San Jose is now being processed and stored in Oakland, a move that workers say could be potentially dangerous if an earthquake were to "sever highway access to the blood bank in Oakland." The Red Cross stated that there was no danger, as a three-day supply is always kept at the San Jose location. Strikers also raised the issue of salary and benefits for employees of the Red Cross. Josie Murphy, spokesperson for the Red Cross of the Northern California Region, said that the union and the management agree on the fact that managed care has caused great change in the blood bank industry. She added, "It has been absolutely financially devastating to this organization" (Kwan, San Jose Mercury News, 11/18).