Balance and perspective are crucial to the daily, sometimes hourly, decisions Dr. Pamela Jensen makes as medical director of Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas hospital’s blood bank. From proficiency testing and quality control to accreditation maintenance, Dr. Jensen oversees all blood banking services for the Dallas campus.
“We have several large departments which depend on blood, including orthopedics, cardiovascular, hematology, oncology; so a robust blood bank is necessary to service those areas,” says Dr. Jensen.
When Dr. Jensen is asked about the ways in which she assesses the hospital’s blood bank, she shares that it’s important to look at the perspective of the patient and the blood bank. “The blood bank’s role is to provide the right product to the right patient at the right time,” says Dr. Jensen. “To make sure we get the products to them when they need it.”
“In order to get those things accomplished, the blood bank has to have very tight processes,” says Dr. Jensen. “Also the blood bank needs to have a lot of support from its community blood center, because we have only a limited inventory of products in our hospital.”
According to Dr. Jensen, there are three important components to a successful relationship between her hospital’s blood bank and their blood center:
- Reasonable, convenient location
- Reliable access to technical expertise
- Strong customer service
The most important aspect, she shares, is that her team has a personal relationship with their community blood center. Whenever a problem arises and Dr. Jensen, or a member of her team, calls the blood center, they want to know the person with whom they’re speaking. She says her team truly depends on the blood center’s high level of customer service to meet routine and urgent needs.
“They, our community blood center, understands, as we do, that blood is not a commodity, but a precious resource.” – Dr. Jensen
“They, our community blood center, understands, as we do, that blood is not a commodity, but a precious resource,” says Dr. Jensen. “And they help us manage our inventory. We meet with them regularly to talk about our inventory needs.”
Dr. Jensen values her blood bank’s relationship with Carter BloodCare. She appreciates how the blood center helps her team in “a very personal way.” She shares an example about managing platelets, which have a very short shelf life.
“It’s a difficult problem for us because we get them [platelets] at about Day 2, and they expire at Day 5. So, if we don’t use them within 3 or 4 days, that product is wasted. And, that is a very expensive and very precious resource,” says Dr. Jensen. “So, our community blood center actually sends people around to our hospital every day to rotate those platelets and make sure that we waste as few as possible. And, I think that’s really good stewardship.”
Dr. Jensen aims to keep a balance of managing current blood banking protocols with implementing new blood supply techniques to improve the lives of patients. Recently, she discovered literature describing how liquid plasma could benefit massive transfusion and trauma patients, as well as help hospitals better manage blood supply, because the particular plasma has a longer shelf life. She reached out to Carter BloodCare’s experts for their feedback on the alternative. She says she is grateful for their expertise and counsel and is excited to report, “They’re going to be supplying that [liquid plasma] in the near future.”
Dr. Pamela Jensen is the Medical Director of Blood Bank in the Department of Pathology at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas.