The Cape Cod Blood Center
What is the Cape Cod Blood Center?
Meet Constance Patten, the newly recruited director of the Cape Cod Healthcare Blood Bank
Constance: It literally is the lifeblood for Hyannis and Falmouth Hospitals. Twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, we meet the needs of our surgeons, emergency rooms, oncologists, pediatricians.
- We collect and store all the blood that arrives through local donations or by purchasing from off-Cape sources. We maintain the supply pipeline 24/7. We test all the blood for compatibility. We are the difference between life and death every day.
- The blood center never closes. Most staff work during the day; two technicians work every evening, and one works from midnight to dawn.
- Right next to our Blood Bank is our blood donor room.
- The Blood Center is the home of our blood laboratory that serves the entire Cape Cod Healthcare system.
- The center also promotes blood education programs, especially in our schools. Moving forward, the center will manage our first-ever blood mobile that will expand the capacity for blood drives across the Cape
How many pints of blood are banked at any one time?
Constance: We bank about 240 units of red cells in Hyannis and another 100 in Falmouth. We need at least one week’s worth of blood on hand at all times. A single open-heart surgery could use 40 units in the wink of an eye. Each unit collected or purchased will last 35 days, so you can understand that it is a never-ending challenge to maintain sufficient supply.
How much blood comes from local donors and how much must you purchase?
Constance: We are able to collect about 35 percent of our required supply from local blood drives and the generosity of our Cape Cod donors. The rest must be purchased directly from our primary source, the Rhode Island Blood Bank, and also the American Red Cross. What is critical to understand is that it costs us at least $240 to $280 to purchase a single unit from off-Cape sources. For rarer blood types or irradiated blood for cancer patients, the cost is much more. When a Cape Codder donates blood, it saves us hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
What is your goal for the blood bank in 2013?
Constance: To work around the clock to increase the percentage of blood donated by Cape Codders as close to 100 percent as possible. That not only will save Cape Cod Healthcare money, but also assure a constant supply of blood. When we rely on outside sources, we can be vulnerable because of supply shortages – especially during natural disasters.
How are you mobilizing to reach your goal?
Constance: We are very fortunate to have many organizations, houses of worship and businesses step up to host blood drives. We hope to expand the number of these critical drives this year through more intense outreach; hiring a recruiter; and providing hosts with powerful marketing and publicity tools. We will be educating Cape Codders about how important – and easy – it is to donate blood.
We also are launching an exciting fundraising campaign, working with many local service organizations, professional groups and businesses to purchase a bloodmobile that can travel across Cape Cod every day to draw blood.
Currently, our blood drives occur only in venues that can accommodate our beds and equipment. With a bloodmobile, many smaller organizations and businesses can sponsor drives. A bloodmobile will cost $80,000 for a used vehicle that must be rehabilitated to as much as $300,000 for a new one; but its return on investment is incalculable.