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From left, Anthony Roberts, Shannon Long, Cindy Lusby and Jim Arnzen
Heather Mosley | SBJ
From left, Anthony Roberts, Shannon Long, Cindy Lusby and Jim Arnzen

2022 Health Care Champions Provider of the Year: Community Blood Center of the Ozarks

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Community Blood Center of the Ozarks’ life-saving work is never done. Every five minutes, a patient requires a blood transfusion and CBCO is well poised to meet that need with its collection of more than 50,000 blood donations annually. Between blood, plasma and platelet services, the organization meets the needs of 68,000 patients at 44 hospitals in Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas. This demand requires 200 donations on a daily basis, with a pint able to be used for up to three patients.

These vital transfusions are part of treating acute bleeding and anemia, cancer, in orthopedic and cardiovascular surgery, transplant operations and for those with inherited blood disorders. The nonprofit organization was also among the first five blood centers in the United States to begin providing COVID-19 convalescent plasma for immunocompromised patients diagnosed with the virus.

Making these services accessible and affordable is a cornerstone of CBCO, which offers a program where patients can receive free therapeutic phlebotomy treatment and other services at their doctor’s orders. This community goodwill also is engendered through CBCO’s Thank-the-Donor program in which transfusion recipients can send messages through anonymous channels to thank donors for their life-saving gifts.

CBCO was founded in 1995 with a $3.5 million loan from 12 collaborating area hospitals based on the need for a local blood donation system. On the first day of operation, 231 people donated blood.

“Quality, efficiency and accountability continue to guide the focus of our vibrant organization,” says Executive Director Anthony Roberts. “We will always strive to provide excellent service to both the donor and the patient. With the community’s continued support, the work that began in 1995 will be sustained for many generations to come.”

To support the need for blood donations, CBCO is involved with education programs at local high schools and colleges to share the life-saving significance of donating blood as a way to give back to the community. The nonprofit also connects with businesses to host blood drives.

“Local businesses play a vital role in saving lives of local patients with the opportunity to be able to donate blood and give back to the community without having to leave their place of employment,” says Roberts.

CBCO also provides the LifePoints program in which donors are given redeemable credits for an online store with products from local businesses. They can use the points themselves or donate their rewards to local nonprofits. In 2021, CBCO donated approximately $13,600 to organizations, including Ozarks Food Harvest Inc., Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks, CASA of Southwest Missouri and Habitat for Humanity of Springfield.

“Partnering with other local not-for-profit organizations in southwest Missouri who have the same heart for helping others in our community is something we believe is especially important,” says Roberts.

CBCO additionally gives back by having awarded $55,000 in grants and scholarships to students at 136 schools last school year in its hospital partner areas. It also is an avid sponsor of local community events, including Honor Flight of the Ozarks, Foundation for Springfield Public Schools and American Cancer Society, with CBCO leadership serving on additional local organization boards.

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