The York County Fair happens once every year and when I was growing up back in south central Pennsylvania, it was exciting for me to attend the fair. I got much the same feeling last month when I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a couple of state blood bank annual meetings for the first time in a few years.
First up, I attended the New Jersey Association of Blood Bank Professionals’ annual meeting in New Brunswick, N.J., where I gave a presentation about America’s Blood Centers at the request of ABC CEO Christine Zambricki. Since moving to Buffalo seven years ago and leaving the New Jersey scene, it was like a homecoming for me to get back to the New Brunswick meeting and see many hospital and blood center friends, former colleagues, and clients. A few weeks later, I attended the Blood Bank Association of New York State’s annual meeting in Rochester, representing our community blood service at Unyts, with the objective of spreading the Unyts message. I also got to see many of my former colleagues and good friends from the New York metro area and from around the Empire State.
These regional blood bank meetings always remind me of the state fair. Except instead of Ferris wheels, “freak shows,” and farmers displaying their prize-winning animals, attendees experience a solid educational program highlighting current topics in transfusion medicine and technology, as well as a good helping of reconnection with regional friends and associates. State blood bank meetings can also present a microcosm of the issues we all face at the national level. I heard discussions and presentations about current technical issues, market challenges, changing strategic realities, regulatory matters, customer concerns, changes in transfusion practice, competition and collaborations, and even Chikungunya virus.
Two things occurred to me at these meetings. One was that state meetings could offer opportunities for ABC to identify cross-organizational strategic synergies. The second was that facing some of these broad issues at the local and/or regional levels may be less daunting than trying to face them across the 50 states and French Canada. As other ABC officials reach out to various state blood bank groups this year, and as you all participate in meetings in your own states, it is refreshing to know that a lot of good blood banking comes from grassroots associations and this continues to be important for our industry.
Chris Staub, MT(ASCP) SBB, Board Member; firstname.lastname@example.org