Blood director saves lives

Jennifer Charbonneaux, the new center manager for United Blood Services in Minot, is no stranger to her line of work in the blood industry. As of December 2012, after former center manager Rich Larcombe retired, Charbonneaux has seemingly taken over the reins of United Blood Services seamlessly.

A Minot native, Charbonneaux has a bachelor of science degree in health services and business from Minot State University. Previously, she served as Regional Operations Director for a marketing company in southern New Jersey. Charbonneaux has worked for United Blood Services for the past nine years and was a mobile crew supervisor, giving her more than 14 years of experience in management.

As the center manager of United Blood Services, Charbonneaux will oversee mobile and center operations, build community understanding and support of the volunteer blood program, serve as a liaison for local hospitals and assist regional management in strategic planning to ensure that patient blood needs are met.

While Charbonneaux is enjoying her new role as center manager, she said she also misses visiting with the donors when drawing blood. The donors are her favorite part about being a part of United Blood Services. Charbonneaux said she likes visiting with them and hearing their stories. “There aren’t too many jobs where you can feel like you’re doing something good everyday and we get to have that feeling,” she added.

Almost all of the employees at United Blood Services donate blood, Charbonneaux noted. They have to meet the same criteria as donors, she added.

“We struggle with low iron and colds, too,” Charbonneaux said.

Charbonneaux said United Blood Services is currently meeting the needs with blood donations, but is also trying to recruit new donors.

“Only 50 percent of the population provides blood for the entire population,” she remarked. “Some people still have the misconception that they can’t or shouldn’t donate, but we take a lot more people than we used to because the testing has gotten better.”

It’s important for people to donate blood, and it’s something Charbonneaux is very passionate about.

“As of today there is still no substitute for blood,” she said. “The only way a person can have a transfusion is from a donation.”

Charbonneaux encourages everyone who is able to donate blood. The whole process takes 45 minutes and people can fill out the health questionnaire online before they come in, she said. The online questionnaire is a fairly new process that was started on April 15, Charbonneaux said, and there has been positive feedback about it. It’s designed to streamline the process so that people will be willing to come back and donate again, she continued.

“Just come in and talk to us,” Charbonneaux encouraged. “Donating blood is a lot easier than people think. And we won’t force you to stay, so if you don’t feel comfortable, you can leave.”

“I’m very passionate about what I do,” Charbonneaux added. “I’ve been here for close to 10 years and I don’t see myself changing jobs anytime soon.”