Agency says changes will help meet an increasing need for blood products other than whole blood
Canadian Blood Services will be closing its donation and mobile clinics in Sudbury by the end of January 2020. It promises, however, that the move will not impact hospital patients in need of blood.
“We manage a national inventory of blood and blood products that makes it possible to address the needs of hospital patients, even in places where there isn’t a local donor centre,” the organization said in a written statement to The Star.
After the closure, blood will be shipped from local blood donation clinics to a regional hub to be processed and re-distributed. Blood for patients in Sudbury will be shipped in from Brampton.
“Patients who need blood and blood products continue to receive them from their local hospitals because of the effectiveness of our system.”
The clinics are closing to allow a new plasma collection site to open in Sudbury next spring. The site will be one of three established in the country.
CBS says this move will help meet an increasing need for blood products other than whole blood. Plasma is a blood product used to make specialized medicines to treat life-threatening conditions. The need for plasma has more than doubled internationally over the last decade.
“Our goal is to increase overall domestic source plasma collection in a cost-effective manner by establishing a scalable, sustainable model that addresses the needs of Canadian patients who depend on medicines made from the proteins in human plasma.”
CBS also says the new plasma clinic will no longer have mobile collection events since plasma donation requires a permanent facility. Communities currently serviced by mobile clinics from Sudbury will no longer collect blood.
CBS reminds everyone that becoming a stem cell or organ and tissue donor, or contributing financially, also supports “Canada’s lifeline”.
Vicki McKenna is the president of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA). She says the association supports the transition from whole blood to plasma collection, though they do have concerns.
“I understand their change in process and why they’re going to do what they’re going to do. It makes sense, but in the meantime, there’s a lot of work to do to make that happen.”
The Sudbury donation clinic currently employs seven nurses, who won’t have any work between the closure in January and the opening of the new clinic next spring. Plasma collection is a different process from whole blood collection, so some of that time will be taken up by training.
“The nurses that work there now, some of them have worked all their career with Canadian Blood Services. It will be different for them, and they’ll make their decisions, whether they want to move to the new clinic and new process and new way of practicing nursing, or whether they won’t.”
She says the nurses and ONA are currently negotiating with the union to determine conditions for the nurses during the lag period.
For donors, she says the process will also be different and each individual’s experience will be unique.
“Canadian Blood Services will need to do some education with the public and their regular donors so people are aware and understand whether they want to choose to continue the new process. I personally hope so. I hope donations continue and maybe even increase.”
She also says that though there won’t be satellite clinics for donors outside of Sudbury, the new plasma clinic will operate six days a week with extended hours. It will also be in a new location, which has not yet been determined.
McKenna says despite the concerns, there are new opportunities with these changes, and they are optimistic.
“CBS will still be in Sudbury, but in a different way, and the nurses will be there.”