Hoping to improve convenience for blood donors in Columbia County, Shepeard Community Blood Center soon will open its doors in a new Evans location.
"We wanted a strong presence in Columbia County, because Columbia County donors make up a large population of our total collection area," said Kevin Belanger, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization.
The 6,000-square-foot building, located at 4329 Washington Road, was purchased about three months ago for about $850,000, he said.
The new location, formerly a Blanchard and Calhoun real estate office, is expected to open some time in February, Belanger added.
The center, which will occupy Building B at Washington and Evans-to-Locks roads, will provide two points of access for donors entering and leaving the facility.
"It's in the center of Evans, so we have visibility, and we're able to have easy access for the donors," Belanger said.
When the new center opens in 2010, both of the county's current Shepeard blood centers will close. One is located at 460 N. Belair Road in Evans and the other at 112 Davis Road in Martinez. Belanger said each building is probably about 1,500 square feet.
"This is really going to open it up and make it more comfortable," he said. "When we combine, we're going to be able to offer everything in one center."
The facility will remain open seven days a week and will possibly have extended hours, he said.
For 20 years, Belanger said, the organization's personnel have rented building space. Now they can have a place to call their own.
When the new center opens, whole blood and apheresis platelet and plasma donations will be collected.
"It will give us ... the opportunity to customize what the actual hospitals need," said Linda Peterson, marketing and public relations manager for Shepeard.
Shepeard Community Blood Center provides blood and blood products to 18 area hospitals, which includes the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. The main Shepeard facility is located on Wrightsboro Road in Augusta.
The interior of the brick building in Evans will undergo a complete overhaul, with $60,000 budgeted for renovations.
Belanger said they hope to do some of the work themselves and in phases to cut down on renovation costs.
The upstairs section of the building will mainly house offices and a training room, while the downstairs area will be used by donors, Belanger said.
A 1,500-square-foot area will be set up with 10 cots for people to donate blood, which should encourage donations, Belanger said.
"Our hope here is that we'll be able to increase collections," he said.
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