A switch in Hartselle Medical Center's blood supplier will mean a savings of some $75,000 a year, according to Hospital Administrator Tim Putoff.
For the hospital to realize those savings, though, the community will have to support the changes by literally rolling up their sleeves for the cause.
"The only way this is going to be successful is for organizations like churches and community groups to get behind LifeSouth and hold their blood drives with them," Putoff said.
HMC is one of 12 North Alabama hospitals that announced recently they were switching blood suppliers from the Red Cross to LifeSouth. The reason, Putoff said, was economics.
"We will be saving almost $100 for every unit of blood we use," he said. "All of the blood is subject to the same testing and procedures. It didn't make a lot of sense to pay $100 more somewhere else."
North Alabama hospital administrators estimate the switch will save their facilities some $2.5 million a year. Hospitals pay organizations such as Red Cross and LifeSouth for each unit of blood it uses. The Red Cross provides about half of the nations blood supply, with smaller organizations such as LifeSouth providing the rest.
Currently, the Red Cross charges $218 per unit of blood. LifeSouth is charging $136.
Putoff said the Red Cross raised the price of its blood 40 percent last year. The cost increase led Putoff and several other North Alabama hospital officials to look for another blood supplier.
That's when they discovered Florida-based LifeSouth, which was already supplying blood in the Auburn/Opelika area, as well as in Montgomery and at Birmingham's UAB Hospital.
LifeSouth, a non-profit organization, currently operates 12 centers in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, providing blood for more than 80 hospitals.
In addition to hosting community blood drives such as Putoff mentioned, LifeSouth is also opening donation centers in Albertville, Decatur, Florence and Huntsville. All the blood collected in the North Alabama region will be processed and stored at a facility in Huntsville.
According to LifeSouth, all blood collected in North Alabama will stay in the area, unless the supply it greater than local need. In that case, blood will be shipped to other areas where it is needed.
The collection centers are expected to be open by July.
In addition to HMC, other facilities making the switch to LifeSouth are: Athens Limestone Hospital, Baptist-Lawrence Medical Center in Moulton, Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Decatur General Hospital, Huntsville Hospital, Marshall County Medical Center North, Marshall County Medical Center South, Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, Russellville Hospital and Shoals Hospital.