Technician-in-training Tatyana Villa prepares blood samples for testing at a nearby hospital in this 2019 file photo.

published on October 10, 2019 - 1:31 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

The leading blood center in the Central Valley could be looking at much-welcomed savings and some potential growth as it joins a new coalition of blood banks in the country.

The Central California Blood Center (CCBC) in Fresno recently announced it would be joining three other blood centers: Community Blood Center in Appleton, Wisconsin; Oklahoma Blood Institute in Oklahoma City; and QualTex Labs in San Antonio, Texas in forming Testing Laboratories United, LLC. According to Chris Staub, president and CEO of the CCBC, the local organization was invited to join the group.

CCBC is one of the few blood banks in the state to do its own testing, and one of only two to inspect for blood diseases in-house. By doing this, Staub said, it can save anywhere from a few hours to a few days — precious time in an emergency. The testing, however, doesn’t come cheap, and can cost anywhere from $40 to $80 for one donor.

By joining Testing Laboratories United, Staub said they’d be able to ride the coattails of the other three centers — all of them bigger than the Fresno blood bank. Membership in the coalition could thus mean lower prices can be bartered with vendors, as they would sell as a package deal for each member as a bundle instead of individually. All four are also members of the national Blood Centers of America (BCA) cooperative, meaning further discounts.

“If you look at how many donors the four blood centers collect, we can leverage that size and go back to the vendors and say: ‘Yes, we’re getting a BCA discount, but now we want an additional discount because we represent a pretty hefty volume within BCA,’” Staub said.

These numbers, Staub said, could lead to upwards of $300,000 saved annually. It could also make it easier to afford the latest testing equipment in the field that could then be used by the six clinical lab scientists and four technicians they have employed in the testing center. According to Ersilia Lacaze, director of marketing and community development at CCBC, this means better stewardship for the blood bank.

“Because if we are ineffective in managing the resources we have, obviously we can’t remain an independent blood center,” Lacaze said. “So it improves efficiencies not only from a testing perspective, but it really improves our vitality, which I think is important to the community.”

Staub also added that they might also be able to do testing for other blood centers in the region. For example, CCBC is currently in talks with Houchin Community Blood Bank in Bakersfield to do their testing.

“We’re certainly getting the attention of the big players in the testing… and machinery market,” he said.

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