Singing River Hospital Gets New Blood Supplier

Beginning next month, Singing River Hospital System will no longer rely on the American Red Cross for its daily blood supply.

The hospital system has signed a contract with Southeast Louisiana Blood Center in New Orleans.

That decision to change blood suppliers, ends a 25-year relationship with the Red Cross.

Money is one big reason for the switch. Both Singing River Hospital System and the American Red Cross say cost was an important consideration.

In fact, officials with Singing River say the cost savings with the new supplier, amounts to $300,000 a year.

Singing River Hospital says patients won't notice any difference with the change in suppliers. The physician who oversees the blood supply says the Red Cross simply wanted to raise its rates too much. And patients would have noticed the increase.

"Just like anything else, when prices go up, these costs have to be passed on to the people who pay for them, and that's patients, our patients' health care systems," Dr. Sid Eudy said.

Blood supplied by the American Red Cross has gone up in price, partly because of a new program to supply only leuko reduced blood. That means removing the white blood cells. It's supposed to be a safer blood product.

Pam Tanner is manager for the Souteast Chapter office of the American Red Cross.

"We are now implementing and have implemented a process that's called leukocyte reduction, and it does up the cost of the blood product somewhat," Tanner said. "We feel that it gives the patient a margin of safety that we want to do."

Dr. Eudy says the jury is still out on the benefits of using leuko reduced blood. And Southeast Louisiana Blood Center will provide both types of blood.

"There is no compromise of safety," Dr. Eudy said. "We feel we're 100 percent comfortable with our new arrangement."

The Red Cross director is concerned about how Singing River's decision might affect future blood drives here. The American Red Cross has been collecting blood in Jackson County for more than 30 years, and despite the lost contract, that will continue.

"We have some concerns about that," Tanner said. "But we do so many things here in the community that we hope the people that have been faithful to us in the past will remain there with us, because we're going to be there for them."

The new contract for blood services, begins January first.