You’ve got blood, and Juneau’s got a new place to donate it.
The Blood Bank of Alaska opened a permanent center in Juneau. While the grand opening of the new Jordan Creek Mall facility is scheduled for Jan. 17, they’ve been operating since Monday.
“We’ve been coming to Juneau for years and doing mobile drives,” said Chris Mello, BBA board chair. “The Juneau community is really good. Every donor is special, but Juneau … we have about 2,000 registered donors here. And people are really enthusiastic. A very large percentage of the population are eager to be donors.”
Right now, the center has two operational beds for donors, one manager and two phlebotomists (people who draw blood) in from Anchorage. They are looking to hire two local phlebotomists. Since opening their doors Monday, they’ve had about 25 people donate blood, Manager Joann Flora said. But she isn’t sure how many people will come for the grand opening next week.
“It’s been interesting how many walk-ins we’ve had already,” Flora said. Even without the publicity, because some people were prior donors they just showed up and asked to donate. Sen.-elect Jesse Kiehl was one such donor among the first in the door, he said at an Assembly meeting on Monday.
On Thursday, Quincy Judson, born-and-bred Juneauite was sitting in the chair donating. He’s been donating blood for 12 years, and said he probably donates about once a year or once every couple years.
“I don’t know that I like doing it,” he said, laughing. “I don’t really know why I do it, actually. They ask me if I will, and I do. And I hope that they’re doing something responsible with my blood,” he said.
Flora said she thinks that’s pretty good for someone who’s only lived in an area with mobile drives.
“Blood saves lives,” she said. “And I think that’s always in the back of people’s heads.”
BBA has been operating mobile blood drives in Juneau two to three times a year, but this is the first permanent facility in Southeast Alaska. The state has supported BBA since the 1980s financially. The nonprofit has received $33 million in funding from state through 2015. However, they still have about $5 million in debt they need to pay off.
“(The state) realized that we needed to prepare for something large,” said CEO Robert Scanlon. “We needed to be prepared to facilitate blood availability in the event of something like (the earthquake) that just happened in Anchorage.”
Currently none of the blood from the BBA is used in Juneau, Scanlon said. Bartlett Regional Hospital receives blood from the Lower 48. But, BBA supplies blood to 21 different hospitals throughout Alaska and to the military. Medical centers in bush Alaska always receive Type O negative blood, the universal donor, to guarantee that all residents can receive care, he said.
Right now, the Juneau center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Flora said they are considering a Tuesday-Saturday schedule in the future to better cater to donors who work regular business hours.
“It’s been a goal of the organization to open a center in Juneau for a long time,” she said. “It’s exciting, and it’s about time.”
The BBA is located in suite 236 of the Jordan Creek Mall at 3800 Glacier Hwy.
• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at email@example.com or 523-2228.