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New organization providing blood for Vidant system

A new organization is supplying the blood needs of Vidant Health hospitals moving forward, including Vidant Beaufort. As of Oct. 1, 2018, The Blood Connection, a nonprofit, community-based blood services organization, became the primary supplier for the hospital system, a position once held by the American Red Cross.

As the primary supplier of blood for the system, the blood collected by the organization will provide the lion’s share used in area hospitals.

“We’ve actually worked with Vidant for several years as a supplementary provider, and then we got the opportunity to work with them in a more expanded role,” said Tracy Bridges, The Blood Connection’s vice president of development and chief technical officer. “We have also worked with the UNC hospitals in a similar role.”

The Blood Connection, like the American Red Cross, is a nonprofit organization, and is the largest independently-managed nonprofit blood center in the region, according to a release from the company. Bridges said the company plans to expand its blood collection efforts in eastern North Carolina moving forward.

“As a community blood center, we provide a similar service to the former provider there, the American Red Cross,” Bridges said. “Community blood centers make up over 50 percent of the blood supply in the United States. We have the same mission. We’re just a smaller, less formalized and less bureaucratic organization. Our purpose is to supply the community and collect from the community to make the community sustainable.”

A statement from Vidant Health echoed themes of sustainability as a reasons for the transition.

“Vidant Health is committed to providing safe, high-quality care to the people of eastern North Carolina. We are excited to share that effective Oct. 1, The Blood Connection became our primary vendor for blood and blood products,” read the statement from Vidant. “Vidant’s goal is to establish a self-sustaining supply of blood and The Blood Connection is committed to ensuring that goal is achieved.”

In addition to serving Vidant hospitals, The Blood Connection also serves eastern North Carolina hospitals in the UNC system in Rocky Mount, Kinston and Goldsboro. The organization has been the sole provider to Wake Med Hospitals since 2017 and is a partial supplier to Duke University Hospital and UNC Health Care at Chapel Hill.

While the primary supplier for the local hospital may have changed, the American Red Cross will continue, as before, to fill a critical role in the community. This month alone, the ARC has eight blood drives scheduled in Beaufort County, all of which can be found by zip code at www.redcrossblood.org. Additionally, the organization stands ready to assist with local supplies as needed, according to an ARC representative.

“The Red Cross values our relationship with Vidant Medical Center and we are ready to respond to any requests for blood products,” a statement from the company read. “As a national network, the Red Cross has a unique responsibility to help ensure blood is available for patients whenever and wherever it is needed. The Red Cross remains committed to all the communities we serve — whether by providing lifesaving blood products or preventing, preparing and responding to local emergencies.”

The organization also plays a major role in disaster relief, as seen after Hurricane Florence, as well as dispatching emergency messages to soldiers overseas, and training in first aid, CPR and lifeguarding.

Founded in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1962, The Blood Connection supplies blood to more than 75 hospital partners in the Carolinas and Georgia. The next The Blood Connection drive in Beaufort County is scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Washington Assembly of God. To schedule an appointment, visit www.thebloodconnection.org, or call 864-751-3019 for more information.