Tell me what you think about the American Red Cross!! - page 2

I am a board member for a local chapter of the American Red Cross. Many local Red Cross Chapters are suffering some dark times in the wake of 9/11. Our chapter and national donations are way down... Read More

  1. by   kmchugh
    I will never again donate to the ARC, be the donation blood, money, or time. This is a personal issue for me, dating back to 1984, when I attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Ca. DLI held a quarterly blood drive on site, and the local hospital, the military hospital, and the Red Cross were all invited in to get blood from donors. There were several thousand soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines at this station, and most donated quarterly. The ARC was more than happy to receive blood from service members. Whenever the hospital at Fort Ord needed blood for sick or injured soldiers, the ARC was equally happy to SELL the same blood donated by service members back to the miltary. Since that time, I have avoided the ARC like the plague.

    Kevin McHugh
  2. by   MollyJ
    Kevin It is my understanding that red cross blood is free but the red cross does recoup the costs of testing, storage, transportation and etc, which sounds a little bit like double talk, I know. Here's the FAQ link on that.

    Every unit of blood is tested for a battery of tests including HIV, Hepatitis A, B & C and a bevy of other tests. None of these are cheap. Also blood takes specialized, knowledgeable handling and equipment and this is where a lot of expense comes in. This same FAQ web site points out that donated blood is the safest blood supply and that is why ARC doesn't pay its donors. I donate blood and I just consider it a positive experience since I know the ARC handles blood in a safe way, with tons of quality control. As a clinical nurse, I always felt confident administering ARC donor blood. I am saddened that you have let this misperception prevent you from helping so many people.

    Why does the Red Cross sell blood and blood products that are given freely by donors?
    The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that supplies almost half of the nation's blood supply by working with more than 4 million donors and 3,000 hospitals. We rely on the generous gifts volunteer blood donors provide us. In order for the Red Cross to make that gift available to patients in need, we must collect, store, test and process the blood. There are significant costs associated with each of these processes, and in order for us to continue making one person's donation available to someone else who needs it, we must charge for the testing and processing of the blood to recoup these costs.
  3. by   kmchugh
    Ah, yes Molly, but when the ARC was short of blood, they had no problem asking the military hospital for it. And they got it for free. The blood drives were held on the military post, and all agencies were allowed to use our facilities for free. Sorry, but given the extreme salaries of senior ARC folks, I never believed they only asked for "cost." In fact, I believe I was told by a military nurse at the time the ARC was asking some 150 - 250 per unit for blood. In 1984.

    Kevin McHugh
  4. by   judy ann
    Never will I give anything to the Red Cross. My dad was in WWII, and was in an evac hospital in Germany. Both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were available at times to bring coffee, doughnuts, and help to write letters home, among other things. The Red Cross charged five cents a cup for coffee, a quarter for a doughnut, and as much as a dollar to write a letter. The Salvation Army asked nothing. My dad would haunt me forever if I gave anything to the Red Cross.
  5. by   MollyJ
    Kevin, I realize your beliefs are long held on this and unlikely to change, so I am replying for others who might benefit from the clarification.

    Red Cross blood is donated across the nation by free will donors who come to donor stations OR, more often, to donor sites sponsored by local organizations, often churches, schools, community centers and businesses. The blood is free and there is no cost attached to the donor site (no fees charged). Often charitable organizations or Red Cross volunteers sponsor the lunch or snack for donors. HOWEVER the phebotomists and nurses, the med tech and the support staff for the Red Cross employees are all employed by the Red Cross. They do it full time. They are employees so that donation procedures can be standardized. As in quality control. If the ARC provides almost half of the nation's blood supply can you seriously entertain that the phlebotomy staff, nursing staff, med tech staff, support staff would all be volunteer and volunteer their time FOR FREE. Do you imagine that the laboratory equipment would all be donated? Do you imagine that lab reagents would be donated or free? Well, they aren't. The donated part is the donor site (often) and the donor. The "Cost" part of the donated blood starts with the phlebotomist on up to the med techs and blood bank personnel. Go check in your hospital on what the cost of a CBC, HIV, Hep A, B & C screen is, just for grins. That's only part of the cost of each unit. I remember being scandalized at the cost of a unit, but just take a minute to think about it.

    The ARC accomplishes much with volunteers, but there are some things that must be done by paid staff. This is true in the hospitals you all work in. Volunteer staff are marvelous, but would any of you want to entertain what YOUR unit would be like if it depended exclusively on "volunteers". The ARC depends on both volunteers and paid staff.

    Judy Ann, your comment is so far out of my expertise that I can't imagine it or defend it. I would need to hear from a Red Cross historian on that one.
  6. by   JWaldron
    I did donate to ARC after 9/11, designating it for 'wherever most needed', but I generally prefer to donate to the Salvation Army, who does an oustanding job with a much lower overhead. This maximizes the effect of every penny donated. I certainly believe the executives and other employees of not-for-profit organizations deserve to be paid fair wages; they cannot work for free and pay their bills as well. I don't think it is/was wrong of ARC to use the money wherever needed - what was wrong was not being forthright about it.

  7. by   Hardknox
    Last week a report on our local radio station stated that of the Millions of $$$$ donated to the 9/11 victims the average that had been given out was 28 CENTS a person! Hard to believe.

    I will NEVER donate to the ARC. My uncle was in WWII and told me that the ARC would give out coffee to the GI's and then charge them for it! Meanwhile the high mucky mucks are making the big bucks.

    Non profit my arse!!! 60 minutes Two showed the corruption of the San Diego chapter and how they used a family as poster material for disaster relief and then turned around and told them that since they had insurance they could get NO relief. Still they continued to use their pictures. And the national head of the ARC defended the action of this chapter until publicity got so bad and NO $$$ came in that he had to fire the head. NO $$ COMING IN made all the difference! I do not give to funds to support the lifestyle of some rich paper pusher. (I already give blood, sweat and tears at my job to support the lifestyle of management!!!!)

    When those towers collapsed my hubby wanted to rush down and give blood. I knew those poor souls were vaporized and wouldn't be needing blood. I also knew that the ARC would be SELLING the blood to hospitals for other people and that they would (and indeed, DID) have to discard millions of units that became outdated. I have NO respect for this organization.
    Last edit by Hardknox on Jun 24, '02
  8. by   MollyJ
    Again, Thanks to those of you who post your concerns and stop by to read. I really believe that information is powerful.

    The San Diego Chapter has done a lot of damage to the Red Cross both locally and nationally. I am also ashamed to hear that the abusive exec is a nurse. However, I believe that this chapter represents the exception, the rotten apple in the barrel. I believe most chapters are humble and hard working. The Red Cross is looking to make oversight more rigid, more in compliance; my chapter is already there. My chapter shares space with a donut shop, so our space reeks of donut grease and occasionally, when the donut shop has failed to do "grease trap maintenance" we have plumbing disasters as the sewer backs up. This is how a i see most local chapters, too. Doing alot with a little.

    I want to talk about 2 comments by Hardknox. But first of all, have you ever had your nursing supervisor call you in and say, "The patient in bed 342 said they didn't see a nurse at all last night." Your jaw drops to the floor. Your speechless and your thinking, "Well, but, but..." and you go on to tell them how room 342's neighbor was in crisis all night and you spent a good part of the night there and you did assess them at the beginning of the shift and the nurse from up the hall did give them their meds and your NA was in their multiple times to do vitals and take care of them. And your super nods and says, "I know. I just needed to hear your side of it." Well, aren't you glad your super acknowledged there probably WAS another side to it?

    Let me tell you some information that I think represents the "other side" of what Hardknox shares and, granted, the news media are giving no play to this side of this issue at all.

    First, re: the 28 cents per person. I don't know what that number means at all. And, in the sound bite of a news report, I bet few do.

    Let me give you a primer of disaster response. Disaster response involves, in terms of the Red Cross, a mobilization of volunteer staffers to support disaster responders including the fire department, EMS, Police, etc. It also involves emergency shelter for displaced victims. It involves mass feeding of victims and responders. It involves taking care of fundamental needs of the disaster responders themselves, like a place to sleep when they can do so, food to eat and maintenance for the vehicles and equipment they use. The Red Cross mobilized so fast at the WTC that one of ERV's (Emergency Response Vehicles) was damaged/destroyed when the second tower collapsed. We were already there supporting victims and responders. Here in the midwest, we along with many chapters, send personnel and ERV's. When a vehicle and 2 or 3 person response team drives half way across the country, it takes gas, food and lodging (nothing fancy, but they didn't take a vow to fast or live in poverty, they just volunteered). So some of that vast amount of donated cash went to support that massive mobilization of the disaster response team. We didn't hand the victims cash: we gave them a blanket, a place to stay, a sandwich and we listened to their tale. We did that for many days in NYC and DC.

    In any disaster response, the Red Cross shows up regardless if the disaster is in a fancy neighborhood or a low rent neighborhood. A colleague I worked with talked about last spring when their house was damaged by a tornado (in a really minor way). The ARC was their and fed and supported them and those that came to help them.

    After initial on-scene disaster response, different levels of aid are rendered and this is based on need. We had some friends whose house was rendered unlivable by fire. Their home insurance helped them with a place to stay until their house was re-built. I doubt that our local Red Cross was involved with them beyond the night of their fire because they really had a great personal, monetary and insurance support system. Trust me, this is how you want it.

    I used to do case management on high tech kids of medicaid. Occasionally, we had patients that were double insured: private insurance plus medicaid. And guess what? Medicaid ALWAYS was the second payer. And as tax payers, that's how you and I want it. Medicaid came in and covered AFTER the primary payer paid out. The Red Cross is like that too. We ask victims to look to insurance coverage and etc before they pay out. In all conscience, we couldn't ask our donors to accept less. And let me tell you a sizable number of the disaster victims we help (especially fire victims) have no house insurance, no renter insurance, no health insurance. They also often have no money in the bank. BUt when we have victims that have those assets, that information is taken into account in determining need.

    My point is this. At DC and the WTC, disaster victims and their families benefited because of the Disaster Response Teams support to the Fire Department, EMS, and Police department and to on site victims. This may be an intangible benefit if you're not there. I think of ARC disaster response as a real behind-the-scenes effort at this level.

    The next level of aid, direct cash payments is strictly determined on need. Like most aid agencies, we give people cash for very proscribed uses: a place to stay, food, basic supplies. In disaster response locally, families deemed in need get vouchers for proscribed items. This may mean underwear, socks, jeans and shirts if a family loses all it's earthly goods in a fire. Like most agencies, we give VERY FEW "blank checks" and tell people, "Go buy whatever you need."

    To the poster family, I cannot directly speak. I would guess that they got support on the night of their disaster. But they had enough other assets that they didn't get some of the other types of support. Let me ask it this way. I have my $150,000 house insured for value plus replacement cost with a deductible AND I had substantial savings. My house gets burned up in a fire. Do you think the Red Cross should help me with the cost of my deductible EVEN IF if I had that money in the bank. OR do you think they should help the young unmarried couple who lived in rental property without renters insurance and just lost everything. One of the couple was hurt in the fire and won't be able to go back to work for 4 months. After the inital response on the night of the personal disaster for both families, the Red Cross is set up to help the family with fewer personal affects. That's how it is. I think that's okay.

    Finally, (I've gone on too long) here is an American Red Cross link for how the disaster money is being spent:
    Families of Deceased/Seriously Injured
    Amount spent through June 7: $172.2 million

    Financial support to families who lost a breadwinner as a result of the September 11 attacks
    Near-term Family Gift Program financial assistance for up to 1 year for food, clothing, utilities, mortgage or rent payments, childcare, tuition, medical bills, funeral and memorial service costs and other time sensitive expenses.
    As of 6/7, 7,887 checks issued to 3,360 beneficiaries, an average of $51,122 per beneficiary
    Future supplemental assistance of approximately $45,000 per estate
    Future need based assistance of $15 million available for dependents, extended family or non-traditional family members of the deceased or seriously injured

    And another
    Displaced Workers/Residents/Others
    Amount spent through June 7: $275 million

    Financial support to families whose homes were destroyed or made inaccessible, or those who lost jobs or income within the affected areas of the terrorist attacks, as well as rescuers and other disaster workers.

    And a general links page:

    Thanks for listening and learning about this very difficult and convoluted issue. I believe the Red cross is trying nationally to prevent miscarriages of justice. I believe we do more good than bad. Please learn about your local Red Cross and evaluate them individually. They could use your help as a volunteer and through financial support. But learn about it! Take time to ask questions and ask the hard questions.

    BTW, nurses are utilized on Disaster Response Teams.
  9. by   Hardknox
    The poster family was interviewed in the 60 minutes piece. They did NOT get any help from the ARC with the San Diego fire disaster--not even the first day! Neighbors and friends took them in.

    That is why they were so upset to find they were featured in an ad the ARC put out asking for donations. It was stated that the ARC had helped this family when it hadn't. In my house we call this fraud!
    Last edit by Hardknox on Jun 24, '02
  10. by   Rustyhammer
    I don't donate to the ARC or to The United Way anymore. I feel that my money and other personal donations are better spent on a more intimate level.
    We have taken in folks who have needed shelter while they get their feet on the ground (in our own home). We will give presents to children at Christmas who otherwise would have none (after they and their family have Christmas dinner here).
    I hire the down and out to do work here on the ranch and let them stay here while they work.
    My wife will teach people how to balance their budget, arrange a menu and do some frugal shopping.
    Our kids donate toys and buy with their own money items that other kids might need (they now know which schoolkids need help).
    We feel that by personalizing our charity we teach our kids AND the ones we assist that help comes best from those you know and the feeling of giving is so good!
    We get back way more than we give.
  11. by   MollyJ
    Originally posted by Hardknox
    The poster family was interviewed in the 60 minutes piece. They did NOT get any help from the ARC with the San Diego fire disaster--not even the first day! Neighbors and friends took them in.

    That is why they were so upset to find they were featured in an ad the ARC put out asking for donations. It was stated that the ARC had helped this family when it hadn't. In my house we call this fraud!
    Hardknox, I'm a little confused about how the Red Cross would get a picture of people they had never served in any capacity, not to mention that usually people sign releases around those kind of things, but I cannot claim to know the specifics of the situation.

    Good for you, Rusty, we do some individual service in our house, too, as well as Scouting, Red Cross, our church and etc. I agree with you that teaching children about service is good and I've worked with the poor much of the last 10 years in my career. I certainly wouldn't tell you that the only legitimate public service was the Red Cross.
  12. by   shay
    They suck my blood and make me faint. Nice folks, though. Good snackie cakes after donation.....................................

    Stayin' outta the Red Cross political arena question...
  13. by   Hardknox
    I have no idea how they got the pictures. You'lll have to ask the San Diego chapter.

    Molly J, I have no wish to get into a debate with you. I no longer give to any organization that doesn't give at least 90% of donated $ to the people it is intended for. I gave to several veterans groups who employed professional fundraisers and the vets they solicited for, in one case, got NO $, the fundraisers got it all. So I select my charities carefully and most of them are local and direct.I never give to anyone who wants me to tape an envelope with $ in it to my front door for pick-up, and I check all charities on the charitable giving internet sites to make sure they are on the up and up.(After all,I work hard for my $.) The one outfit that meets all my criteria is the Salvation Army and I give a goodly amount to them. You asked what we thought of the ARC and I told you. That's my exit line.
    Last edit by Hardknox on Jun 25, '02