'I hurt a lot today': Longtime blood clinic co-ordinator reacts to closures

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'I hurt a lot today': Longtime blood clinic co-ordinator reacts to closures

It was one thing June Harquail was sure the Town of Dalhousie, N.B., would never lose, not after losing so much of its industry and business.

But on May 17, Canadian Blood Services will hold the final blood donor clinic in the town, a practice that's been happening for 65 years.

For 42 of those years, Harquail has been the clinic's co-ordinator, working with staff from Saint John to fill a necessary need.

"I hurt a lot today," said Harquail.

Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services in Atlantic Canada, said the closures have to do with finding efficiencies and hospitals not needing as much blood.

"It's a matter of the travel time to bring our team to Campbellton and Dalhousie, and the fact that hospital demand remains flat," he said.

"We are working to grow collections at our permanent sites in New Brunswick in Moncton and Saint John."

Canadian Blood Services has shut down other mobile clinics in other parts of Canada, including one on P.E.I. 

Upsetting decision

The decision to end the clinics has upset Harquail, 82.

She was away visiting relatives for two weeks and arrived home Friday to find 28 messages on her phone. Five of them were from Canadian Blood Services in Saint John, with each message increasing in urgency for her to call back ASAP.

The news of the clinics coming to an end left her breathless and angry.

The Dalhousie clinic once had over 300 donors, but it now averages in the high 60s.

"I told her ... 'We're saving lives. I joined the Red Cross all those years ago because I thought we were doing a humanitarian thing,'" said Harquail.

Working to save clinics

Dalhousie Mayor Normand Pelletier learned of the closures by email earlier in the week.

"I was extremely disappointed, frustrated. Dalhousie was one of the highest [attended] blood donor clinics in northern New Brunswick during its heyday when we had all our industries," he said.

Pelletier said he will be contacting local MLAs to help him and Campbellton's mayor work to save the clinics.

Harquail said she'll be doing her part as well.

"I feel bad today for the donor. I feel bad today for the recipient. I don't hurt for me, I hurt for them," she said.

MacDonald said donors can still donate at clinics in Bathurst, something both Pelletier and Harquail say won't happen because of the one-hour drive it will necessitate.