In response to a story we published earlier today about the American Red Cross’ decision to end its Puerto Rico whole blood collections operation by October, leading to the loss of over 200 jobs and claims from the island’s Red Cross director that the move was racially charged, this evening Latino Rebels received the following statement from Stephanie Millian, a spokesperson for the Red Cross:
The American Red Cross will continue to provide blood and blood products for hospital patients in Puerto Rico through its national inventory system. The lifesaving mission of the Red Cross includes ensuring a sufficient blood supply is available whenever and wherever needed by patients. Hospitals throughout the territory should see no difference in the high level of products and services we already provide. While Red Cross whole blood collections in Puerto Rico are scheduled to be phased out in the coming months, we will continue to collect platelet donations and services provided by the Red Cross chapter will remain the same.
The Red Cross provides approximately 62,000 units of blood each year to 52 hospitals throughout Puerto Rico and we will continue to meet these needs. We encourage whole blood donors to continue giving through one of Puerto Rico’s other blood collection agencies starting in October.
It’s important to note that over the last several years, the Red Cross has made many cost-saving decisions throughout its Biomedical Services operation; Puerto Rico was only minimally impacted by the previous changes. This decision was based solely on economic factors.
As the health care industry continues to evolve, the Red Cross must take steps to ensure we can provide an adequate and cost-effective blood supply to those we serve. The general nature of the blood industry is changing. Overall demand for blood products has dropped as medical treatments advance and fewer transfusions are necessary. The Red Cross has reduced its annual whole blood collections from 6.5 million to 5.5 million; a corresponding reduction of staff has occurred nationwide to align appropriate resources to blood collection needs.
We value all of our Red Cross donors and regularly translate our materials into Spanish for use in Puerto Rico and across the United States.