I got an email a few weeks ago, announcing a blood drive on campus. It has been a few years since I gave blood—the last time I signed up for a blood drive, I got a bad cold and had to cancel. Several other blood drives I’d had to skip because they were scheduled on days when I had no spare time. When I was a grad student, I gave blood fairly frequently (3 or 4 times a year), but there was a Red Cross blood donation center near the Stanford campus, so I could schedule donations at my convenience, not waiting for a blood drive. It is much, much less convenient here, where there are only one or two blood drives a year.
I figured it was past time to give blood again, and so I signed up for an appointment, scheduled for 10:30 this morning. I picked the time as a compromise between having to get up extra early and my afternoon scheduled classes and appointment. Also, by the time I signed up, it was one of two appointment times left.
Yesterday, I got scheduled for an extra meeting about the design of a new course for 11:30 this morning, but I figured there was just time to give blood, recover for half an hour and make it to the meeting.
I got up a little early this morning, so that I could drink the extra 16 ounces (475ml) of liquid that they requested, and cycled up the hill to the Stevenson Event Center where the blood drive was located. I was 10 minutes early for the appointment, and feeling pretty good—I was actually going to be able to give blood this year!
Before I signed in, though, the man at the sign-in table warned me that they were running an hour behind schedule (that’s right, by 10:30 in the morning, they were already an hour behind schedule). So the slot that I had available for the blood drive was not, in fact available.
What is the point of Red Cross scheduling appointments for a blood drive, if they aren’t going to keep to their schedule?
I can understand having a first-come-first-served system, with no appointments. I can understand an appointment system where every slot for giving blood is scheduled ahead of time. I can understand having an appointment system and taking walk-ins when there is a spare station available and no one with an appointment waiting.
I can’t understand having a system that takes appointments then makes the people who have appointments wait an hour. That is just incompetent scheduling. Either they should have made fewer appointments, or they should have asked the walk-ins to wait.
I had to leave without giving blood, and I’m irritated with the incompetence of the Red Cross blood drive. It may be several years before I attempt to give blood again, because it is clear that I’ll have to dedicate at least 2 and possibly 3 hours (to compensate for their incompetence at scheduling), rather than just one hour.
Perhaps the reason that there is a perennial shortage of blood donors in the US isn’t because people are unwilling to give, but because those who collect the blood are incompetently managed.