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local jobs in 2008, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Another longtime blood drive company, Baxter Healthcare Corp. in Largo, collected 91 units during employee drives between March and November 2008. Baxter, a maker of medical equipment, paid employees to donate, but it has canceled all future blood drives following several rounds of layoffs.

Scott Hudson, a Baxter supervisor who was laid off in December, said he continues to give blood at another location. But, he said, “If people used to do it because it was at work …I can see why they’re not going to go out of their way anymore.”

To help meet their needs, blood drive coordinators have shifted their focus to so-called promotional stops with area retailers such as Dunkin’ Donuts and Golden Corral.

High schools and college campuses, which often provide more than 15 percent of donations, also are being targeted.

“We’ve already committed to the hospital, and we still have to find [donations],” said Vivian Quinones-Solano, regional director of FBS donor systems.

While people facing money shortfalls can try to adjust their budgets, demand for perishable blood is constant and can only decrease if hospitals perform fewer procedures. Gaskins said so far he hasn’t seen that happen.

Companies that haven’t been hit with layoffs also will be urged to increase their participation. Blood drive coordinators at Tampa Electric Co. last week were encouraged to keep donating. Last year, 508 TECO employees contributed 1,096 times.

Judy Butts, a TECO blood drive coordinator, said convenience is critical to getting co-workers to donate. She said she prefers to donate at the office and not at a blood center down the road from her Brandon home.

Robert Browning, a TECO blood donor who also has offered his bone marrow for a transplant, said he would be hard-pressed to find time to donate outside of work. He and his wife juggle two full-time jobs and three kids. “I probably wouldn’t be donating today without it,” he said.

It’s likely the bloodmobiles will visit more churches and retail locations in the coming months in addition to ongoing corporate drives, Quinones-Solano said. And workers at one of those ongoing drives may actually see an increase: Florida Blood Service holds a monthly drive at Hillsborough County’s unemployment office.

“The same population is here,” she said, “We just have to find them.”

United Blood, which supplies blood for hospitals throughout Ventura County, said about 2,255 pints were collected in January blood drives, about 288 fewer units than in the same month a year ago.

Officials of the American Red Cross said drives in Ventura County haven’t lagged but blood donations throughout Southern California have slid with the economy.

“Right now we’re looking at a one- or two-day supply of most blood types as opposed to five or seven days,” said Nick Samaniego, a spokesman for the regional office. “We’re not at a crisis level right now but we’re nowhere near where we need to be.”

Edward said the shortfall has come despite usually surefire promotions like free See’s Candies for people who give blood. He blamed seasonal barriers that keep people away from drives. But he also said the recession has slowed donations at the mobile blood drives that make up about half of the blood collected.

Blood Donations Slow

As Economy Slides Published by Ventura County Star

People are being tight with more than their money these days, according to officials of blood banks who say layoffs and other economic cutbacks are crimping their blood drives.

Much of it is a numbers game. Layoffs mean there are fewer people at the company to give blood. The employees that remain are stretched tighter than normal. Their bosses worry about the time it takes to give blood as well as the efforts of staff to coordinate a drive, Edward said.

“As soon as a company announces layoffs, you pretty much know you’re going to be in for a big-time struggle,” said Scott Edward of United Blood Services, predicting a 10 to 20 percent reduction in blood from mobile drives at companies in the middle of layoffs.

But there may also be a psychological component. The stress of a recession can make people less likely to bare their arms.“Donating blood is a personal thing... You have to be feeling kind of good,” Edward said.

“When people are positive and optimistic, we have a really good turnout.

the Drop - ADRP’s Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2009 / Page 27

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