Red Cross closing three centers in Oklahoma and cutting jobs in Tulsa

Tuesday, May 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The gift of blood may be free, but the cost of getting that blood to those who need it is putting Oklahoma's Red Cross in a money bind. That's costing 20 jobs in Tulsa.

Oklahoma's Red Cross has been operating in the red for four years. That means 56 Oklahomans will lose their jobs, including 20 in Tulsa. The financial squeeze is also forcing them to shut down three blood collection centers in Ponca City, Stillwater, and Norman.

But Red Cross officials say the move won't effect their ability to serve donors. Interim Executive Director – SW Region, Pam Head, "Now it doesn't mean that we are not going to be in Norman, Stillwater and Ponca City. We'll still be collecting blood there."

Neither of the blood collection centers in Tulsa will be affected by the cuts. And officials say donors elsewhere in Oklahoma will still be able to give through the Red Cross' mobile blood centers. "We're going to try to make it as convenient as we can by going back to these communities on a regular basis so the people that donate there will still have a convenient place to donate."

The Tulsa chapter of the Red Cross is about $4.5-million in debt. The cuts will eliminate only half of the red ink, but those in charge don't expect any more local layoffs. They say part of the financial problem comes from not collecting enough blood. "It helps a lot to collect at goal. And this region is not collecting at goal. We're about 83% of our planned goal for this budget year."

With summer vacations on the horizon, meeting blood collection goals becomes even trickier.