R.I. Blood Center opens laboratory to test blood donations

The Rhode Island Blood Center opened a new state-of-the-art laboratory on Thursday that will allow for increased blood-testing capacity. More

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R.I. Blood Center opens laboratory to test blood donations

The new $8 million laboratory opened Thursday at the Rhode Island Blood Center will test all blood donations for the center and many Massachusetts hospitals while keeping customer costs down, said CEO Lawrence F. Smith.
Posted 9/19/13

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Blood Center opened a state-of-the-art laboratory on Thursday that will allow for increased blood-testing capacity.

The 20,000-square-foot lab is connected to the Blood Center’s main facility at 405 Promenade St. in Providence.

The new lab will test all blood donations to the Rhode Island Blood Center and many hospitals in Massachusetts, and will have the capability to add any new blood tests that may be developed or required in the future.

The lab is the only one of its kind in New England, according to the Rhode Island Blood Center.

“With the opening of this new laboratory facility, the Rhode Island Blood Center’s staff will be better able to continue its important work of servicing patients not only in Rhode Island but in nearby Massachusetts,” said Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee at the opening event Thursday. “To meet the needs of the community, the Rhode Island Blood Center depends on the generosity of volunteer donors to collect the pints of blood needed daily.”

Implementation of the new lab will be phased over several months, as equipment and personnel is moved from the laboratory in the adjacent building.

“The new facility allows us to continue to serve the growing need for blood products’ testing services throughout the Northeast,” said Lawrence F. Smith, CEO of the Blood Center. “We’ve had remarkable growth and the new facility will allow us to meet the ever more complex requirements of providing a safe blood supply, ensuring continued future growth.”

Smith also said the lab will allow the Blood Center, a nonprofit, to control costs for hospital customers.

The new laboratory sits on land previously occupied by a floral exchange and virtually abandoned in recent years. Besides the 20,000-square-foot new structure, a smaller 2,600-square-foot building has also been restored for future use.

When the Blood Center announced its intentions to build the lab last year, Dr. Michael Fine, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, called the new facility “an investment in the good health of all Rhode Islanders.”

Smith said the Blood Center currently employs nearly 400 and anticipates adding more jobs at the new facility in time.

The $8 million project was self-funded, Smith said, not reliant upon taxpayer dollars. Vision 3 was the project architect, and E.W. Burman Inc. the construction company.

The Rhode Island Blood Center was founded by the hospitals in Rhode Island in 1979 to develop a more efficient system of collecting, testing and distributing blood products and has grown to a full-service regional blood center.

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