If you’ve joined us for a blood center tour, you’ve already seen many parts of the lifesaving process up close.
However, there is more involved in the business of saving lives. This is your opportunity to get an inside look at the rest of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. Parts of the organization not included on the tour are highlighted here so you can see a more complete picture of what it takes to meet the blood needs of patients in our region.
Check out our Commit for Life videos that show the many reasons why Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is important to people and a special behind-the-scenes look into our operations.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center supplies a full range of transfusable products, including special order components.
Hospital Services is responsible for managing the regional inventory by utilizing two primary objectives:
- Maximize availability
- Minimize waste
The sole purpose of Hospital Services is to ensure every patient in our region has available products when needed.
As an added convenience, we offer online ordering. Utilizing the online ordering system reduces the need for most telephone communication and allows each hospital to receive feedback on the status of their order. The online ordering system also has reporting capability that allows your hospital to monitor ordering patterns and total number of units shipped.
We participate in the AABB’s and BCA's (Blood Center of America) National Blood Exchange program, which allows blood centers to share their inventories to assist each other in times of short supply. This ensures that donated blood can be available where it is needed, affording the most effective use of the available blood supply.
Consultation and Reference
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Immunohematology Reference Laboratory is accredited by the AABB and certified by CLIA. We provide suitable, safe and effective blood and blood components for transfusion to patients in more than 170 facilities.
This laboratory serves as a transfusion service, typing and cross-matching units for patients. Our highly trained staff can provide assistance in resolving serological anomalies discovered during pre-transfusion testing, such as ABO discrepancies and identification of unexpected antibodies.
The laboratory has an extensive collection of phenotyped red blood cells that enables it to perform procedures such as adsorption and elution (not easily performed in hospital laboratories) and to identify unusual antibodies or mixtures of antibodies.
We offer telephone consultation to clients to aid in troubleshooting and problem solving.
Blood Center Fleet
From the donor coaches you see out at mobile blood drives to the Commit for Life-branded sport utility vehicles you see traveling highways throughout our region, vehicles are an essential part of the life-saving process. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has a fleet of more than 100 vehicles used for a variety of purposes.
The majority of those vehicles belong to our Donor Collections Department and are either donor coaches for outdoor blood drives or vans that contain mobile setups for indoor drives.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center currently has 15 donor coaches, 11 of which serve the Gulf Coast region while two serve East Texas and two serve Brazos Valley. These coaches and vans make it possible for Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center to partner with businesses, churches, schools and more to host more than 6,000 blood drives every year.
The majority of the Honda Elements and Toyota RAV4s you see on Gulf Coast highways belong to our Product Management Department; they are our Hospital Services vehicles and are used to transport blood products to and from more than 170 hospitals and health care facilities across Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's 26-county service region.
Altogether, the Product Management vehicles typically travel more than one million miles each year to ensure hospitals have the products needed on their shelves.
Infectious disease testing of donor blood is a critical step in ensuring the safety of the blood supply. Thirteen different tests must be performed on every unit of donated blood.
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's National Donor Testing Services (NDTS) Lab maintains multiple testing shifts to ensure accurate and rapid detection and confirmation of a variety of infectious and viral diseases, as well as ABO/Rh and the deletion of antibodies to RBC antigens.
Rigorous testing procedures performed in our laboratories help minimize the likelihood of transmitting infectious diseases through blood transfusions to ensure that patients have the safest blood supply available.
Each test is performed in strict compliance with current instructions provided by the manufacturer of the test materials and equipment in use.
All testing meets the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration.
Our Component Production team utilizes state-of-the-art technology to provide a full range of the highest quality blood components necessary to meet the transfusion needs of patients in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Our processes and transfusable components are validated and tested regularly according to regulations, and we continually seek to improve our services through the advancement of technology.
While testing is being completed, our technicians separate donated blood into components. Because of the density of the cells, centrifugation causes red blood cells to settle at the bottom of the collection bag. Technicians manually extract plasma and platelets into separate bags. White blood cells are then removed from the red blood cells through a filtration process called leukoreduction.
One unit of whole blood may be separated into various combinations of components. Various types of plasma and red cells are produced to meet the needs of our patients. Another component, cryoprecipitate, may be obtained through freezing and thawing plasma.
Apheresis collection procedures minimize the need for component processing, resulting in ready-to-use components. Apheresis components are stored in the lab until testing is completed.
After the blood is processed, tested and blood typed, it is labeled stored for distribution. The length of storage is dependent on the component and ranges, from five days (platelets) to one year (frozen plasma).
Component Production operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 2013, our team of 40 professionals produced more than 567,000 products.
Mobile Operations Complex
The Mobile Operations Complex is an 85,000-square-foot facility at 9990 Fannin, about two miles south of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Headquarters. It is home to the Donor Collections Department and serves as the launching site for more than 6,000 mobile blood drives that take place every year.
Originally designed to replace Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's onsite warehouse, which was destroyed in an electrical fire in 2005, the Mobile Operations Complex also houses the organization’s Central Supply warehouse and Vehicle Maintenance shop. More than 200 of our approximately 700 employees are based at this location.
The facility was constructed using “green” practices, including:
- Thermal mass walls for decreased energy use
- Use of regional materials during construction
- Recycling of construction materials during construction
- Use of low-emitting volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the interior
The building opened in spring 2009 and continues to operate using environmentally friendly features, like:
- Prominent use of daylight and daylight views throughout
- The solar orientation of the building, to minimize heat load
- Lower water usage in landscape irrigation and dual-flush options in the restrooms
- Daily recycling opportunities
- Encouragement of alternate vehicle use by the provision of premium parking and bike racks
“In building the Mobile Operations Complex, our vision was to seek further opportunities to give back by building green—taking fewer resources from our community and leading to greater sustainability for the environment,” Melissa Fisher, Chief Financial Officer, said at the time of the building's opening.
The Mobile Operations Complex achieved silver-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification in 2010.