Glenwood’s Valley View Hospital to close its blood bank
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A community institution for more than three decades, the Valley View Hospital Blood Bank will be closing after this month.
Taking its place will be the St. Mary’s Regional Blood Center’s blood-mobile unit, based in Grand Junction, which already serves much of the Western Slope, including Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.
“In this medical era, partnerships between medical facilities increases both efficiency and economy,” Valley View Blood Bank Director Lisa Lohse wrote in a letter sent to area donors last week. “We see this new cooperative effort as an opportunity to streamline our supply and demand for blood at Valley View.”
The St. Mary’s Donor Coach, as it is called, will be coming to Valley View at least once a month, beginning Dec. 15 and every third Tuesday of the month. It may be scheduled more frequently, depending on donor interest and the hospital’s need for fresh blood supplies, VVH Lab Director Jeanette Refior said.
Valley View’s blood bank has been accepting donors every Tuesday for several years. The decision to discontinue the service came down to an inability to keep up with the regulatory paperwork involved with running a blood bank, Refior said.
“With all the regulations and inspections, both for the blood bank and the lab in general, it was hard for us as a small hospital to keep up,” she said. “Between us and Montrose, we were the last two small hospitals still doing it.”
Partnering with St. Mary’s will allow for additional donors to give blood who were not able to give at Valley View’s blood bank previously, she said.
“We were only able to do types O and A here,” Refior said, where St. Mary’s has the ability to accept blood types B and AB as well.
Valley View’s lab will continue to take blood from donors who are drawing for their own scheduled surgeries, as long as they have a doctor’s order to do so, Refior said.
The final two blood bank donor days, on Nov. 10 and 17, are already booked up, she said.
One longtime blood bank volunteer, Sue Kuhn, said she is sad to see the blood bank closing but understands the reasons.
“It’s something that’s been around for 31 years, so I’m quite upset that it’s closing,” she said. “It’s one of those things, with the economy and such, where it’s just hard to hire the staff to keep up.”
Jill Brennan, donor recruiter for St. Mary’s Blood Center, said they may be able to make use of some of Valley View’s volunteers.
“We haven’t decided what we might want them to do, but we know these are people who are very passionate about what they do,” Brennan said. “We can always use some help, though.”
The St. Mary’s Donor Coach already serves a number of locations in the area, including Colorado Mountain College, Grand River Hospital, the Rifle Veterans Nursing Home and blood drives at several high schools, including Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork high schools.
The first visit to VVH will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 15. The mobile unit will be parked near the hospital’s emergency room entrance facing Blake Avenue. No appointment is necessary, and free cholesterol screenings will be offered during the first visit and periodically after that.
“Change is hard, but this arrangement should work out fine,” Brennan said. “People really seem to love the bloodmobile. It’s totally self-contained, and makes it real easy to donate.”
A full schedule of upcoming St. Mary’s bloodmobile locations is posted at http://www.stmarygj.com, including one set for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at CMC’s Spring Valley Campus outside Glenwood Springs, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will also be at Rifle City Market on Nov. 16, and at Coal Ridge High School on Nov. 19.