First donor center designed with social distancing in mind welcomes local families
This article is part of a regular series highlighting each of Carter BloodCare’s donor centers, their teams and their commitment to serving communities by fulfilling the mission to save lives by making transfusion possible.
Starting a little over a year ago, mobile drives out in the community were no longer the only way to donate blood in Rockwall.
In June 2020, Carter BloodCare opened a donor center in this thriving city east of Dallas. The Rockwall center had two inaugural milestones: it was Carter BloodCare’s first to begin operations in the middle of a pandemic and the first to be designed specifically with social distancing in mind.
The center uses four donor beds, as opposed to the usual eight beds found in other Carter BloodCare donor centers. This provides space for people to safely donate with more room between beds.
“We knew we needed to open a donor center in Rockwall, because donors and businesses here have been historically so supportive of the community blood supply,” said Donor Center Manager Justin Grimsinger. “The Rockwall Donor Center now provides locals with a convenient full-time venue where they can help save lives by donating regularly.”
That includes residents like Julia Braaten and her family, who make blood donation a priority, even in a pandemic.
A regular donor who actively encourages the whole family to get involved, Braaten hosted blood drives at her local Episcopal church prior to the pandemic. She now makes time to visit Carter BloodCare’s local donor center to give, in between shuttling young kids around town and running a household.
“As a community, it’s important to give blood for Rockwall patients,” Braaten said. “Though it’s not always easy to find time to do so, sometimes you just have to make time to donate.”
A family that saves (lives) together
Braaten – whose children are ages 17, 15 and 4 – helped coordinate a donation event at her church before the Rockwall Donor Center opened.
“One reason people may not donate is that no one asked them, so I asked the whole family to get involved,” Braaten said.
Braaten’s sister, brother-in-law and husband James were first in line to donate to support the blood supply.
Carly and Rylee, Braaten’s daughters, along with the church’s young people, signed in donors on the day of the drive and made sure members not eligible to donate also came out in full support,
from set up to clean up.
In addition, the Holy Trinity youth group, as part of their mission to do good works in the community, had a representative from Carter BloodCare speak about blood donation and why it is important to Rockwall County.
Said Braaten of the drive, “It means a lot when you ask someone to come give at your blood drive and they show up.”
And Carter BloodCare made showing up even easier for many Rockwall residents.
Based in the Rockwall Ridge retail center, this location is Carter BloodCare’s first donor center in a mixed-use building, one with both residential and business communities. Blood donation is convenient for people who work in the area and live upstairs in their apartment homes.
Staffers: “We are family”
The Rockwall Donor Center is the “work home” to four knowledgeable and dedicated staffers. In addition to Supervisor Tamara Allen, the team includes Phlebotomist 1 LaKendria Warren, who has 14 years of service with Carter BloodCare; Phlebotomist 1 MacKenzie Bassinger, with almost a year with Carter BloodCare; and Phlebotomist 2 Michelle Hess, with almost 12 years of service.
The team typically sees 15 – 20 donors daily at the Rockwall center, but would prefer at least 10 more each day, especially among Rockwall’s large population of young people and families.
However, staffers at the Rockwall Donor Center find their work embraced by residents across all demographics. It’s a reflection of their mission-minded dedication and love of community.
“Like a family, our small but mighty team works really well together,” Allen said. “We are here for each other, we laugh together and make working at Rockwall Donor Center fun.”
Carter BloodCare Rockwall Donor Center
1307 Ridge Road, Suite ##1105
Rockwall, TX 75087
Hours of operation:
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Carter BloodCare’s team at the Rockwall Donor Center would love to see you and your family for your next lifesaving donation to help local patients. To find additional donor centers near you, visit CarterBloodCare.org or call/text 800-366-2834 for an appointment.