The Fort Gordon community and Armed Services Blood Program celebrated the reopening of Kendrick Memorial Blood Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 15. KMBC is part of the ASBP, the military’s official provider of blood products for service members and their families in both peace and war.
Previously, the center had been operating out of a temporary facility (since 2014) and other locations prior across the installation since its inception. The ASBP manages blood requests from the five major combatant commands by sending blood supplies to service members in combat environments. The program also provides blood for service members and their families at military treatment facilities around the world. Fort Gordon’s KMBC is one of 20 military blood collection sites and provides direct support to Eisenhower Army Medical Center and the ASBP with blood donations year-round.
Named after Maj. Gen. Douglas B. Kendrick, an innovator who helped shape the Army’s blood program during World War II, the new 15,850-square-foot facility is located at 30 Central Hospital Court, Building 360 – across the parking lot from the center’s former location. It features eight screening rooms, a 15-bed phlebotomy area for donors, an additional five-bed apheresis section, and state-of-the-art laboratory testing, processing and storage equipment.
“Undoubtedly, Maj. Gen. Kendrick would be proud to see his namesake center continuing his legacy by rapidly a diverse range of lifesaving products in theater wherever and whenever needed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Necole Reese, KMBC NCOIC.
Putting the significance of the ASBP in perspective, Maj. Kelly Tucker, chief of blood services for the Department of Pathology, Eisenhower Army Medical Center, said that “any patient needing blood affiliated with the military – either in a combat zone or at a [medical treatment facility] – will likely get that blood from the Armed Services Blood Program.”
“The new state of the art building allows us to collect up to 10,000 units of whole blood; 1,500 units of plasma; and 1,000 units of platelets annually in support of that robust and lifesaving mission,” he added.
Col. Jason Corley, director of the ASBP, traveled from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to celebrate the center’s opening. Corley described KMBC as a “spectacular new facility” that was indicative of the need to support an evolving, critical mission – one that saves lives.
“Our goal is to ensure that all medical providers have the right blood product tool in their blood product toolkit regardless of their location,” Corley said. “And we are certainly leading the way in the ASBP within the transfusion medicine industry with our collection and distribution of newer blood products.”
Unlike civilian donor centers in surrounding communities, centers under the ASBP are restricted to federal properties when it comes to collecting blood products, which makes KMBC an ideal location for hosting blood drives at locations such as Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Parris Island, South Carolina; and Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.
“That is why the donor community here at Fort Gordon – like the 15th Regimental Signal Brigade – are vital to the overall success of the ASBP mission,” Corley said. “This single donor center is a big reason why the ASBP has been able to continually support operations in the Middle East over the past two years. I know that I personally rely on this donor center often for last-minute blood requests … and they always come through.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the center opened for walk-in donations and tours of the new facility. Reflecting on the past several years, Erin Longacre, Fort Gordon ASBP blood donor recruiter, said there were many challenges leading up to the center’s opening; some of which were due to the pandemic.
“The facility is beautiful. It was well worth the wait,” Longacre said. “We can store more blood products, we can store different kinds of blood products … and we have more processing capability space in here.”
Donation hours at KBMC are Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Thursday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 706-787-2800, or visit www.militarydonor.com to schedule an appointment.