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Red Cross to close daily blood donation center

The American Red Cross will close its Charleston blood donation center at the end of the year as part of an ongoing plan to cut costs at the national nonprofit relief organization.

Marianne Spampinato, spokeswoman for the Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, confirmed details of the plan late Friday.

The shuttering of the center, located at 4501 MacCorkle Avenue, coincides with planned Dec. 31 layoffs of more than 40 blood services workers in the region.

Spampinato said the Red Cross, like many other nonprofit organizations across the country, is facing difficult business decisions to reorganize its operations and workforce to ensure long-term sustainability.

"We regularly evaluate our operations to determine how best to use our resources to maintain an efficient blood collections operation," Spampinato said. "In an effort to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of our business, we reached the difficult decision to discontinue the Charleston donation center."

The center is the Red Cross's only daily blood donation location in the Kanawha Valley. Beginning Jan. 1, donors will have to drive to either a local one-day blood drive or other blood donation centers in the state to give blood. 

The cutbacks are part of a national effort to bring the organization's budget back into balance.

In 2008, national Red Cross officials embarked on a five-year plan to eliminate the organization's $209 million annual operating deficit.

Red Cross president Gail McGovern said in a financial update last year the organization would have to find ways to become more efficient in 2012. Executives have implemented staffing changes at their headquarters and offices nationwide.

The Biomedical Services division, which controls the testing and supply of donated blood to hospitals, is reducing the size of its workforce by about 2 percent - approximately 380 workers.

Spampinato said the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, which includes West Virginia, recently notified 45 of its 550 staff members that their positions would be eliminated effective Dec. 31.

The reduction will not affect the Red Cross' other West Virginia blood donation centers in Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Wheeling.

The organization will also still continue to hold blood drives at area churches, businesses, schools and other community locations.

Spampinato did not know exactly how many employees at the Charleston blood donation center would be laid off at the end of the year. She did say the Red Cross would offer some employees transfers to other offices around the region.

"We understand this is happening during a difficult time of year and that these changes will affect the lives of our employees and their families," she said. "The Red Cross will make every effort to assist those impacted by this reduction in force, including consideration for other open positions in the region."

For directions to other blood donation centers, or for information on community blood drives, individuals can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.hunt@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148.


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