Innovation Interview: Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center

Lane & Waterman’s Innovation Interviews highlight the unique and innovative work our clients do in the community. For our inaugural post, we spotlight Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center’s new initiative that is transforming treatment for colon cancer patients. We sat down with Kirby Winn, Director of Public Relations, to learn more.

Tell us about your new initiative and how it’s innovative.

We have partnered with QC Urology’s Dr. Harb to begin drawing immune cells from prostate cancer patients as part of a treatment offered by Dendreon. This is new for ust; typically we are drawing whole blood, platelets or plasma from volunteer blood donors, so having patients visit our facility as part of their cancer treatment has not been the norm for MVRBC. When we see Dr. Harb’s patients, we collect immune cells through a process called apheresis. Right away, we ship these cells to a Dendreon lab where they are modified as a customized treatment for each patient and returned to Dr. Harb for infusion back to the patient later the same week.

We are uniquely qualified to perform the collection procedure, because we already have the equipment in place and the infrastructure to ship it.

Why is innovation important to the blood banking industry?

We’re excited to work with Dr. Harb and Dendreon, because it means we’re a part of bringing a new type of patient care to the Quad Cities. For us, innovation means delivering the best possible service to the medical community. Many innovations also mean improved efficiency and reduced costs for our partner health care providers.

For example, we recently rolled out DOVAC Elite, a more complete donor registration platform. The new program allows us to have more complete donor records, alerts us to gaps in a donor’s questionnaire answers, and allows our teams to work faster and eliminates rework on the backend. All of this results in cost-savings we can pass on to our service hospitals.

What’s on the horizon for the Blood Center?

Every summer, we experience a dip in donations due to school summer break and increased vacation travel by our regular donors. The rate of blood usage remains the same despite this dip, so we are always thinking of creative ways to pump up donations at this time of year.

This year, we’re giving out t-shirts featuring “Team Red” and “Team Blue” that ask people to “Step up to the plate to donate blood.” As a Cardinals fan, I’m hoping we see more “Team Red” on the donor beds, but I guess we’ll be happy for the Cubs fan who donate as well.

Is there anything else you want us to know?  

We are always adapting. Around this time last year, we learned of Zika virus and developed a temporary response plan to ask donors about their recent travel. In less than a year, we developed a test to identify donors who are carrying the virus. If we’re not adapting, we aren’t able to adequately meet the needs of our hospitals and ensure patients have the blood products they need.


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