5Q: John Ferretti, CEO of the Blood Bank of Delmarva
You recently joined the Blood Bank of Delmarva. How is the transition?
The transition has been smooth. I served on the BBD board for about eight years prior to becoming CEO, so I had an understanding of our business. I am fortunate to have a strong senior management team – two members have been here for five years, and the controller has been here almost two years, but we worked together previously for 25 years. The VP of Shared Services joined when I came on board.
We’ve often heard about blood shortages and the challenges in the industry with regard to supply and demand. How is the BBD meeting those challenges?
We experienced some supply shortages last summer, similar to what was also being experienced on a national level. We supplemented our supply with blood from other blood banks in areas that had excess blood collections. We have since added new staff and increased our mobile blood drives to support the increased demand.
This industry works well together and actively shares our precious resources by moving excess donations from one part of the country to places experiencing shortages. Blood products have a relatively short shelf life, so demand spikes are generally resolved with resource sharing between blood banks to balance supply and demand. We have always been able to meet the demand from our hospitals without exception.
How has donor recruitment evolved over the last few years and how do onsite donations compare to mobile blood drives?
Under our former membership program, we focused on recruiting large groups of donors through partnerships with companies. Today, our recruitment efforts are more focused on individual donor recruitment. This shift is a result of changes in healthcare practices and insurance reimbursement for blood.
While we have shifted to a more individual donor recruitment strategy, group recruitment remains a key part of our strategy. However, we are moving to a mobile strategy which will increase our community and corporate blood drives. This change will enable us to meet the donors at a location that is more convenient to them and allow us to reach new donor groups and different demographics.
Today, our onsite donations make up more than two-thirds of our total donations but with our anticipated increase in mobile blood donations we expect that mix to change.
Do you think the public fully understands the role of the BBD?
To some extent, yes. We have a dedicated group of donors who help create awareness of our mission. However, we can do a more effective job of increasing public awareness. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and we can certainly do better in educating the public about the importance of donating blood or making a financial contribution to support our mission.
What are some of your goals for the organization over the next few years?
We want to continue to increase new first-time donors, especially among the millennial group. A large segment of our donor population today is over the age of 50, so we need to engage younger donors. We also must improve the effectiveness of our communication with donors by leveraging social media and text messaging. We’ll also work to seek efficiencies in our operation. As hospitals continue to look for cost savings, we who are in their supply chain need to deliver our service in the most efficient manner possible.