Blood Bank of Alaska (BBA) has many unique challenges due to our geographic location in relation to the lower 48, and the size of our service area. Alaska itself represents about 20 percent of the US landmass. No offense to Texas, but Alaska could easily fit two states the size of Texas within its borders with room to spare.
On a year-to-year basis, Alaska experiences about 50 percent of the world’s seismic activity. Closure of airspace is a daily concern due to the large number of active volcanoes within the state, which could spew tons of ash skyward on a moment’s notice. Emergency preparedness and contingency planning is a way of life. Alaska blood shipments also battle many obstacles to keep the people of Alaska safe, such as blinding snow, high-winds, fog, distance, and subzero temperatures.
While BBA has been successful for over 50 years in overcoming the inherent nature of our environment, we, like many of our fellow America’s Blood Centers members, are facing new, unpredictable challenges due to the changing landscape of healthcare in general, particularly the Affordable Care Act. For example, on-again-off-again government mandates create a lack of defined business models for many hospitals across the country, and hospital Medicare reimbursement issues for blood and blood products create more downward price pressure on blood centers.
For each of us as individual organizations, these issues are more difficult to surmount than any geographical challenges or blizzard. The unpredictability of the business environment creates uncertainty on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. How should we, ABC members, respond to such an environment?
The answer is your ABC membership and actively participating in our trade association. Paying your annual dues is not enough to reap the benefits of association membership. You must also make an investment of time and effort in association activities and become involved. Simply put, what you receive out of association membership is directly related to what you put into it. ABC is at a pivotal moment in its development as an organization. I encourage you and your blood center to fully participate in the decisions that lie ahead. We as an association must decide on our priorities in dealing with the complexities of blood reimbursement, regulatory issues, and other challenges. This requires your voice. Our organization can be influential or it can be irrelevant to the current healthcare discussion in Washington, D.C. The ultimate outcome is up to us.
Robert Scanlon, Board Member; rscanlon@BBAK.org