Blood Center grows while watching expenses

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS (KTRE) - Celebration is in order for the growth The Blood Center East Texas has seen since 1998.

"When I first started here we only serviced a few hospitals in two counties," recalled Mary Francis Bradford, The Blood Center director. "Now we have 8 health care facilities and six counties."

And every hospital is looking for ways to manage costs. They turn to Brian Gannon, The Blood Center's corporate leader for answers. "What they're doing is asking us to what extent can we provide them with lower costs," said Gannon, president of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. "We're having to respond to the pressures that the hospital are facing with decreased Medicare, reimbursements and a lot of changes that are already impacting them with the health care reform today."

It doesn't matter if a facility is 'for profit' or 'non profit' when it comes to paying the bills and managing costs. Just as the remodeled center is designed for efficiency, so are some corporate moves.

"We're working really, really hard trying to get some of our overtime hours down, just trying to get as efficient as possible and what we're doing is just not raising our prices right now," said Gannon. "I think that's important in this economy right now. People are looking for any opportunity that we can find and we want to be a bargain for them."

Some things cannot be compromised, like blood testing. It costs $60 for every unit. Nor can recruiting. Without the donor, there is no blood center. The Blood Center East Texas provides 15,000 units of blood annually to hospitals in the area. Every day, recruiters in Lufkin and Nacogdoches ask businesses and individuals to commit for life by donating blood.

"I have to explain the need. Why they need to have the blood drive,' said Nacogdoches recruiter, Connie Weaver. "People's lives depend on it."

It's for people like Emily Smith, a child whose life depended on blood donations. Thanks to blood donations she was on hand to cut the red ribbon at The Blood Center's event.

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