West Coast Blood Center celebrates Santa Clarita grand opening

Tracy Hunter, Director of Special Events, left, for West Coast Blood Center is presented a plaque from the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce by Chamber member Patrick Moody in front of the blood donation trailer at the grand opening ceremony held in Valencia on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

West Coast Blood Center of Santa Clarita, the first and only mobile blood donation center in the Santa Clarita Valley, celebrated its grand opening Thursday.

This is the first expansion location of West Coast Blood Services, which has operated Houchin Community Blood Bank in Bakersfield since 1951.

“We’ve secured a couple of contracts with hospitals in Southern California, so we wanted to start collecting (donations) in those areas to make sure those needs were met in those markets as well,” said Rachel Parlier, creative development coordinator. “We really want to create that community feel, so when the blood comes from those areas, it’s even better.” 

President and CEO Brad Bryan said in a news release the expansion won’t be Houchin’s last.

“Houchin is still the same organization, with the same commitment to supporting our local community,” Bryan said in a prepared statement. “We now have a sister organization just over the Grapevine, serving the Santa Clarita Valley and throughout Los Angeles County.

“We will continue to expand in innovative ways into new areas and always keep our focus of saving lives through blood donations in the communities we serve because when you give, people live,” Bryan added.

Phlebotomist Dora Rubalcava, right, prepares Taylor Kellstrom as he donates blood in the blood donation trailer at the grand opening of West Coast Blood Center in Valencia on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Kicking off the grand opening with a blood drive at their center off of Rye Canyon Road, this wasn’t the organization’s first appearance in the SCV, as they’d been hosting community mobile blood drives locally since June, giving residents convenient opportunities to donate blood, platelets and plasma.

“We really want to make it convenient for people to donate blood, so we partner with different businesses, retailers, churches and other community groups to help host on-site mobile blood drives,” Parlier added.

Each blood donation can save up to three lives, while every two seconds, someone in the U.S. requires a life-saving blood transfusion, according to the statement.

“Too often, our local blood supplies dwindle because of the time commitment and inconvenience of visiting a brick-and-mortar donation center,” Bryan said. “WCBC-SC is ready to make sure our community always has an adequate and reliable supply of blood by meeting donors where they already are.”

West Coast Blood Center’s mobile blood donation center travels across the SCV, hosting multiple drives weekly, with appointments recommended at each, though walk-ups are also welcome.

“We’re pleased to have West Coast Blood Center of Santa Clarita helping to support our community,” Nancy Starczyk, chair of the SCV Chamber of Commerce, said in the statement. “We encourage everyone to call and make an appointment to donate blood to make a difference and save someone’s life.”

To host a blood drive, contact Cynthia Frausto, account manager, at [email protected]. To schedule an appointment or for more information, visit westcoastblood.org or call 661-401-0320. 

West Coast Blood Center VP of Operations Shawn Pettis, left, and Tracy Hunter, Director of Special Events prepare to cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony held in Valencia on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

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