Central Blood Bank parent in merger talks with Florida system

| Monday, July 28, 2014, 3:27 p.m.

The corporate parent of the Central Blood Bank is in talks with a Florida-based blood center about a merger that would establish the largest independent nonprofit blood management system in the nation.

A blood center combining the Institute for Transfusion Medicine Inc., based in Green Tree, and OneBlood Inc., of Orlando, Fla., would distribute nearly 2 million units annually with combined revenue of $480 million and more than 3,500 employees.

The two centers said in a statement that the talks and a financial review are expected to last for several months, during which they will continue operations with no changes in service.

A possible merger occurs as advances in medical technology have made the need for blood less frequent. From 2008 to 2011, demand dropped by 8.2 percent, according to a report last year from the American Association of Blood Banks, which expects the decline to continue. Blood banks are changing to collection on an as-needed basis, medical officials said.

“We have entered a new era of blood banking. Hospital consolidation continues to occur, and medical facilities need larger-scale blood centers to serve multiple locations in broader service regions,” said Jim Covert, CEO of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine in the statement.

“We must do our part to help ensure the blood is available when and where it is needed while assisting the industry in its efforts to control health care costs,” Covert said. He could not be reached for further comment.

The American Red Cross, a charitable organization, is the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States, collecting and processing more than 40 percent of the blood supply and distributing it to 3,000 hospitals and centers nationwide. The largest independent nonprofit blood center is BloodSystems Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., followed by OneBlood, New York Blood Centers and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, said Susan Forbes, a spokeswoman for OneBlood.

Forbes said it's too early to say what the effect of a merger would have on employees of the two companies or their organizational structure. But there is no overlap in service areas, she said. It is too early to say which executives would lead a combined company, she said.

The Institute for Transfusion Medicine operates in the Pittsburgh area as the Central Blood Bank and in Chicago, Virginia and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. The institute was established in 1987 and later acquired other blood centers. It distributes about 671,000 units of blood products annually, employs 1,100 and operates 43 donor centers.

OneBlood serves most of Florida and parts of South Georgia and Alabama. It was formed in 2012 when three of Florida's blood centers merged. OneBlood distributes nearly 1.3 million units annually, employs 2,000, operates 70 donor centers.

“By combining the resources of two industry-leading blood centers we can further strengthen the blood supply, especially in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes in the south and winter storms in the north, while at the same time create operational efficiencies that bring additional value to our healthcare partners and our blood donors,” said Don Doddridge, CEO of OneBlood.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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