LifeSouth to break ground on new Montgomery home

Artist's rendering of new LifeSouth building
Artist's rendering of new LifeSouth building

MONTGOMERY, AL - After supplying hospitals in South Alabama for more than 15 years with blood components, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will begin construction on a new $4 million district headquarters in Montgomery.

LifeSouth will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking May 19 at 4 p.m. at its property on Carmichael Road adjacent to the Montgomery Cancer Center.

LifeSouth purchased the 3 ½  acre site in 2006, and since that time a large sign facing Interstate 85 has declared it as the "future home of LifeSouth Community Blood Centers."

"The future is finally here," said LifeSouth South Alabama District Director Judy Russell.

It was Russell who opened LifeSouth's first South Alabama location in a small strip center in Opelika, when the community blood center was tasked with supplying blood with East Alabama Medical Center. The small shopping list of what she needed to accomplish that task is still a fixture on Russell's desk. Today LifeSouth supplies nearly 60 hospitals in Alabama, making it the largest supplier of blood components in the state.

The South Alabama District serves 20 hospitals, includes donor centers in Montgomery, Opelika and Dothan and employs nearly 100 people. The new 17,500-square-foot building will provide greater visibility in a larger and more energy efficient space, taking the place of three separate smaller buildings in Montgomery.

LifeSouth CEO Nancy Eckert sees the new building as investment in Montgomery's community blood supply that makes economic sense.

"It will cost us less to be in one building than it does now to be in three," Eckert said.

Russell sees additional advantages as well.

"Having our operation under one roof will really improve our efficiency," said Russell. "Where it will help the most is in the communication about the needs of our hospitals."

The new building will house administrative offices for the district and LifeSouth's Montgomery Region, and it will include a state-of-the-art donor center and the hub where the blood collected in the district is processed before it is taken by LifeSouth couriers to area hospitals. The location, which is close to both the Eastern Boulevard Exit (Exit 6) and Perry Hill Road Exit (Exit 4) on I-85, will also serve as the home base for LifeSouth's three bloodmobiles that travel all over Montgomery, Crenshaw, Elmore, Autauga and Chilton Counties.

"In 2009 our Montgomery Region conducted more than 1,000 blood drives in this area, collecting nearly 30,000 units of blood," said Russell.

As a community blood center, that blood stays in the community, with its first priority to serve local hospitals. In 2009 LifeSouth supplied 99 percent of the blood used at community hospitals in the region.

One of LifeSouth's closest neighbors at the new location will be the Montgomery Cancer Center. Russell said the cancer center irradiates certain blood components for LifeSouth, so operationally having them next door, will make that service more convenient, but the connection goes much deeper than that.

"LifeSouth's dedicated platelet donors are an important part of the team that helps local cancer patients live to fight another day," added Russell.  "Our motto at LifeSouth is 'connecting our donors to our patients.' Now our donors and patients will be neighbors."