Healthcare Administrators of Tidewater Mobile - Spring 2017

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Member Reflections on March 2nd Event, “Organ & Tissue Donation: A Tour & Discussion with LifeNet Health”

Keith Buckley, MHA, FACHE

On Thursday, March 2, members of the Healthcare Administrators of Tidewater chapter of ACHE met to tour the facilities of LifeNet Health and discuss their programs and challenges in providing transplant and implant services to local hospitals. Speakers included Donna Bishop, Director of Donor Center Services, Jean Neubauer, Sr. Director Bio-Sciences, and Cheryl Territo, Director OPO Operations. LifeNet Health, is a nonprofit global leader in regenerative medicine, and the world’s largest provider of bio-implants and organs for transplantation.

After the networking portion of the evening, attendees were taken on a tour of the facilities. Highlights of the tour included a summary of the contributions of Mr. Bill Anderson and Dr. Richard Hurwitz past CEOs who were instrumental in the establishment and growth of LifeNet Health. The tour continued with the Quilts of Love display that are hung throughout LifeNet Health facilities. These quilts were created by donors and recipients to recognize the generous gifts of organ and tissue donations. The tour continued to the Musculoskeletal area which is responsible for the preparing and packaging of the donated tissue used in many orthopedic, spine, and sports medicine surgeries.  Other areas on the tour included the automated Graft Storage Area which automated the storage and retrieval of grafts, and the Sterilization and Decontamination Area. This was a 20 minute abbreviated tour, however the staff stressed they would provide a complete tour at a later date for those interested.

After the tour, attendees reconvened in LifeNet’s auditorium for a discussion regarding LifeNet’s programs and operations. The presentation and discussion focused on a few of LifeNet’s divisions, the Tissue Services Division, and Transplant Services Division and Donor Family Services.

The Health Tissue Services Division is dedicated to training, educating and maintaining relationships with more than 55 partners in order to promote donation in their respective communities. The Tissue Services Division customizes and coordinates services to meet the specific needs of LifeNet’s recovery partners. The Department of Tissue Client Relations functions as the primary LifeNet Health contact for all recovery partners’ operational needs. Each recovery partner is assigned a team of experienced LifeNet Health staff, led and coordinated by the partner’s primary Tissue Client Relations Representative, all to handle the essential administrative, regulatory and compliance issues. Their Tissue Development teams allow for an efficient, easy-to-communicate process to assist recovery partners.

LifeNet Health Transplant Services Division is a leading, federally designated Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) that coordinates the recovery and transplantation of organs in Virginia, offers a comprehensive program of bereavement support for donor families, and educates the community about donation. 

There were several critical points mentioned during their presentation:

  • Donation and transplantation save lives. There is a critical shortage of organs in Virginia and nationwide. Three Virginians die each week waiting for a life-saving organ transplant that doesn’t come in time.

  • One donor can save 7 lives through organ donation (heart, liver, pancreas, 2 kidneys, 2 lungs) and enhance more than 50 lives through tissue donation.

  • Nearly 100,000 people are currently awaiting an organ transplant in the U.S.; more than 2,500 of those are in Virginia.

  • On average, 18 men, women, and children die each day waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in the U.S.

  • There were more than 28,000 transplants in the U.S. last year, and more than 700 of those were in Virginia.

Another integral part of LifeNet’s programs discussed is their Donor Family Services. The LifeNet Health Donor Family Services Department is dedicated to comforting those touched by the donation process. They offer a range of services to support the families making donations, including continuous communication with other donor families and transplant recipients, as well as support groups, workshops and more. Their website is open and available for all who mourn the death of a loved one, with a wealth of resources and information compiled to support the grief counseling programs of our recovery partners.

Tissue and organ procurement and transplant is an integral part of providing quality care that every hospital is responsible for, and for which the community depends. This service would not be possible without organizations like LifeNet Health providing the high quality and innovative services they do. One distinct impression I left the presentation with is that LifeNet truly embraces their mission of “Saving Lives, Restoring Health and Giving Hope.”

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