Blood Bank’s Desrochers ‘furious’ about outsiders drawing from Erie
As Director of Marketing and Community Relations of the Community Blood Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania & Western New York, his job is to promote the benefits to our community and common man of a most selfless, personal act: donating blood.
His job has been complicated recently by the aggressive recruitment of Erie-area blood donors by blood banks based in Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Desrochers says that the exporting of “Erie” blood has reached such a critical mass that he felt compelled to invoke the help of City Council at Wednesday night’s meeting.
He answered some questions for Press and Tower:
P&T: What prompted you to go to the City Council meeting last night?
DD: The Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh is using community assets (Tullio Arena & Bayfront Sheraton/both get taxpayer money) to directly undermine the LOCAL blood supply. As a tax payer I am furious about this problem.
P&T: Why do you think outside blood banks are recruiting in the Erie area more aggressively now than before?
DD: The Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh never has enough blood; they import about 10% of everything they transfuse. They cover from Crawford County south and have millions of potential donors in their service area, but obviously they didn’t get enough so they’ve come to Erie and have taken advantage of the generous people here. In 2009 the entire country had a record high blood supply, we had levels even higher than after 9/11, but the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh was still struggling.
This problem won’t go away. The Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh hired a full time recruiter who lives in North East to do nothing but collect blood in Erie County to send to Pittsburgh.
P&T: If you can, share some of the misconceptions or lack of understanding the local organizations that are partnering or hosting the outside blood banks for local drives tell you?
DD: The Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh tells people that patients go from Erie to Pittsburgh for treatment and get blood and they are just ‘replenishing’ that. I can tell you, FAR more people from Crawford, Venango, Mercer and other counties (Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh’s territory) come to Erie for treatment than people from Erie go to Pittsburgh. There simply aren’t enough blood donors to go around.
P&T: Talk about any specific brand confusion between “Community Blood Bank” and “Central Blood Bank” that exists.
DD: In the past Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh has deliberately just used their initials CBB ( our initials too) when recruiting for blood drive here in Erie County. We actually had people call us to complain about how they were treated at a Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh drive. They called us because they thought that’s who they had donated with.
One very well respected media person after seeing the TV ad said we could get a “Cease & Desist” because they changed their ads so much from their home market.
P&T: Are you guys rethinking your stance on your use of the Blood Mobile (encouraging people to come to 26th & Peach vs. more local blood drives)? Will you be purchasing another and/or doing more outreach into your service area?
DD: We just received funding from Erie Insurance and The Erie Community Foundation to purchase a new blood mobile in the fall. But adding more outreach to respond costs money and will drive up costs for local hospitals and ultimately patients. This activity by the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh is increasing costs and decreasing safety locally.
P&T: What’s the status of the blood supply today, going into the Fourth of July?
DD: We’re low. We need donors. We are now open EARLY! New summer hours at 26th & Peach 7:30am to 6pm Monday-Friday, Saturdays 9-12:30pm. No appointment is needed to save a life. But bring photo ID!
Fourth of July weekend is traditionally the worst weekend of the year for the blood supply and I am HUGELY worried, like I always am.
Did you know I was skinny and had no gray hair when I started this job 7 years ago? Alright I wasn’t skinny and maybe my 9 & 11 year old boys had something to do with the hair, but I do take the status of the blood supply very seriously.
Lives are literally at stake.
How about you readers? Have you given blood thinking that you were donating to the local blood bank and it wasn’t the case? Does it really matter to you who gets the blood you donate?
We will keep watching this conflict unfold.