Two area American Red Cross chapters are joining forces later this year, a change prompted by a retirement.
The American Red Cross chapter in Medina County will be joining the Summit and Portage Counties chapter in Akron, starting in July.
"This change will allow us to be better stewards of our donors dollar," American Red Cross of Portage and Summit Counties spokesperson Mary Williams explains. "It allows us to maximize equipment, volunteers and skill sets between the two chapters."
Williams says equipment and volunteers will still be in Medina County to serve as needed, and that money raised for Medina County will continue to support that community.
Williams says local money donated will stay where it is given.
"Donors can continue to be confident that if they donate in Medina County, it's going to support their local community," Williams says. "If they donate for Summit County, it's going to support their local community."
The change takes effect July 11th, upon the retirement of Medina County chapter executive Beth Kilchenman. She's stepping down after 27 years with the Red Cross.
The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties is already preparing for even colder weather expected next week.
The Red Cross says it'll open its building on West Market Street in Akron as a warming shelter starting Monday.
(American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties)
American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties chapter (501 West Market Street) will serve as a warming shelter
· Monday, 1/27 through Thursday, 1/30
· Warming Center will be open during business hours, from 8am - 5pm
· Opportunity for community members to come in out of the cold
· No meal services
The American Red Cross has started an effort to assist parts of the Philippines ravaged by a typhoon that has killed at least 1,700. For now, it's best to offer money and not items that you think may be needed.
"Transporting those goods out of the United States is really tricky on a good day, so at this time we are just supporting through funding," said Mary Williams a spokesperson whose region includes the Summit and Portage County Chapter.
The Red Cross is also helping people get information about family or friends that they haven't been able to contact.
"If you are looking for someone in the Philippines and you have tried several times to communicate with them, keeping in mind that phone lines are still down, we have activating our tracing service and we will utilize our channels to help find your loved one," said Williams.
Williams says people can donate through www.redcross.org or call 1.800.RED.CROSS. She says that money intended for use in the Philippines relief effort should specify that cause.
During the 4th of July holiday weekend, many people will be taking to the various lakes and pools to go swimming and the Red Cross is offering tips for parents to make sure their children are safe in the water.
Christine Moran, Regional Communication Officer for the American Red Cross says it's important to constantly keep an eye out for children when they are near water.
"It's easy to get distracted when you 're at a party and kids are playing in the pool, but there's a large number of children that die each year due to drowning," she says.
"In some cases, parents are nearby, but sometimes they don't even know their child is in trouble, so it's really important to keep an eye on them at either the lake or the pool."
Moran says its important to know what to do if an emergency does occur.
"It's always important to have a phone nearby to call 9-1-1 in case there is trouble, because seconds determine whether or not someone lives or dies."
Other swimming safety tips include using the buddy system, swimming in designated areas that are supervised by lifeguards, having a cell phone and first aid kit handy in case of an emergency.
UPDATE: The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties closed the shelter early Friday evening, after all who were staying there were able to return home.
(American Red Cross - news release) The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties is pleased to announce that it closed its shelter operation at 7:00 pm this evening. Although, the Red Cross originally planned to keep the shelter open overnight, the remaining two families were able to return to their homes late on Friday allowing the Red Cross to close operation sooner than anticipated. The shelter was opened on Thursday evening at its facility at 501 West Market Street to house and feed three local families -- 10 individuals in all -- who were displaced by the flooding in west Akron following a water main break.
(Earlier ANN coverage) Due to the flooding caused by a broken water main off West Market Street, some Akron families are currently being assisted by the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties
Mike Taylor, Communications Specialist for the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross says they opened a shelter at their West Market Street facility around 7 pm. Thursday evening to help those who had to evacuate their homes.
"We brought some people in to our building three families - 10 individuals in all - and they have been sheltered there throughout the night," he explained.
Taylor tells AkronNewsNow.com the three families are currently at the shelter until alternative housing accommodations can be made.
He (Taylor) says the families are getting the basic essentials of housing and food after getting displaced from their homes last evening.
The flooding happened along West North Street, Valley Street and Gold Street Thursday night after a 36-inch water main burst.
There will be labor peace again as members of the Teamsters Union working at the Red Cross Blood Services division finally have a new contract, ending a walkout against the blood collection agency.
The Red Cross says member of Teamsters Local 507 ratified the new contact and could be back on the job as early as this week. Health care coverage had been the key sticking point, according to prior media reports.
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(American Red Cross Blood Services) The following statement regarding a new contract agreement between the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Blood Services Region and Teamsters Local 507 may be attributed to Christy Sabaka, Communications Manager:
"The American Red Cross is pleased to announce that it received notification today that a new collective bargaining contract has been ratified with Teamsters Local 507 in the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region. We are grateful that Teamsters members have agreed to the terms of the new contract and will start to return to work as soon as this week. This union represents 236 blood collection operation employees.
The new agreement is equitable and balanced in achieving the needs of both the Red Cross and Teamsters members, and is sensitive to the financial pressures that health care providers are experiencing in today’s economic environment. With an agreement in place, we are looking forward to our valued colleagues returning to work and together focusing our full attention on ensuring a sufficient blood supply for the hospitals and patients we serve. The Red Cross has already reached 23 other agreements with local labor unions since last summer."
Some volunteers from the American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties are helpng with post-tornado efforts in Kentucky.
"We have damage assessment teams out in the fieldstrying to get a better handle on the number of homes that have been either destroyed or have suffered major damage," said Volunteer Pam Williams.
She is one of four volunteers from the local organization, which is also lending an Emergency Response Vehicle.
"This disaster operation is covering 23 counties, four in Indiana and 19 in Kentucky," said Williams.
Williams says the volunteers will be busy cleaning up, serving food and helping connect displaced residents with housing and medical needs, including use of medical counseling.
As threatened, 200 Teamsters members walked off their jobs with the American Red Cross today.
The two sides have been working to negotiate a new contract. The Teamsters claim their strike is "over concerns about donor safety and the health of Red Cross workers" in a news release issued by Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland. The Red Cross has said in the past the contract negotiations stalled over disagreements relating to health care programs provided to workers.
Earlier this month, the American Red Cross said it had contingency plans in place to make sure adequate supplies of blood were available to northeast Ohio hospitals, including supplies which would come in from sister Red Cross chapters.
Listen to Katy Berger of the Northern Ohio Red Cross discuss the impact of the strike.
(Teamsters Local 507) More than 200 blood collection workers and mobile unit assistants for the American Red Cross in Northern Ohio went on strike early this morning over concerns about donor safety and the health of Red Cross workers who screen donors, draw and safeguard blood.
The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 507 in Cleveland, had given the Red Cross a 10-day notice in advance of the strike.
“There are serious problems at the Red Cross and potential donors need to be made aware of them,” said Al Mixon, International Vice President and President of Teamsters Local 507. “We had hoped a 10-day strike notice was enough to get Red Cross management’s attention.”
The Red Cross has been fined more than $30 million by the FDA over blood safety practices. This includes a $9.6 million fine just last month for mishandling or misplacing donated blood and, in some cases, transfusing potentially infected blood into patients.
Outside Red Cross’ offices, workers are picketing and holding signs that read, “Red Cross Unfair. Tainted With Greed.”
In addition to neglectful behavior toward donors and recipients, the Red Cross is also mistreating its employees. In Northern Ohio, the Red Cross has made major staffing cuts. It is also trying to replace its workers’ quality health care plan with a far inferior one. This results in high turnover when workers seek other jobs that provide adequate family health care protection. High staff turnover can lead to more challenges to keeping the blood supply safe.
“The Red Cross has a responsibility to this community to protect the health of its workers,” said U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. “I stand with the workers who are fighting to protect us all here in Ohio.”
“This should be a wake up call to Red Cross management, which chooses to ignore FDA fines and mounting evidence that Red Cross treats the Cleveland blood supply as a cash cow
that can be sold for $700 a pint rather than as a guardian protecting our community's public health,” Mixon said. “There are alternative places to donate blood.”
Safeyyah Edwards, a 10-year blood collection instructor at the Red Cross, said, “Our concern is not only for blood donors and recipients, but for our community overall. The Red Cross needs to stop destroying good Ohio jobs.”
The local American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations.
The Northern Ohio Region is under a "Transfuse Only" advisory.
"Basically what 'Transfuse Only' means, is that a hospital must have a specific need for a particular patient at that time rather than filling standing orders for blood," Katy Berger said, spokesperson.
Berger said organization needs almost 900 pints of blood each day, in order to keep blood on the shelves at hospitals.
"We look to have about 1,000 people come forward each and everyday and take that hour of time to give blood," Berger said.
Blood donors must be 17 years of age or older, in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and must bring a Red Cross card or photo ID.
If you plan to roll up your sleeves to donate, click here to find a zip code search application for the closest donation location near you.
More information can be found on www.redcross.org.