A Condensed History of the Northwest Florida Blood Center, Inc.
(Now Northwest Florida Blood Services - A division of Florida Blood Services)
The Northwest Florida Blood Center was born in 1948 out of the needs, thoughts and desires of the Escambia County Medical Society. Names such as Drs. W.C. Payne, Herbert L. Bryans, Sidney G. Kennedy, Jr., William P. Hixon, Alvyn W. White, Jesse N. McLane, Gretchen V. Squires, Raymond Squires, J. William Douglas, Egbert V. Anderson, Gerard H. Hilbert, Henry M. Yonge, C. Fenner McConnell, Allen Ames, C.C. Webb, Albert Drlicka, all these doctors, and perhaps others, are part of the reason that we are here and provide the life saving resource - blood - to this community. Over the years, from 1949 forward, many of these wonderful physicians have served in leadership roles with your society and helped to steer us in the right direction by serving on our board of directors or in an advisory capacity. The community’s health has benefited greatly from the foresight and pioneering spirit of these physicians.
In December, 1949 the blood bank opened in rented space from Dr. Sidney Kennedy, Jr., and the Women’s Auxiliary of the Escambia County Medical Society was responsible for gathering the furniture and various and sundry office items necessary for the blood bank to begin operations. It’s interesting to recall those early days when ambulance service was provided by the funeral homes, only 2 tests were performed on blood donations – typing and syphilis, and pathologist, Dr. Gretchen Squires was the first medical director. Baptist Hospital was still on the drawing board, the Medical Center Clinic only had 11 doctors on staff, and the membership in the medical society was at 50.
Today, the Northwest Florida Blood Services has donor collection sites in Pensacola, Ft. Walton Beach, and Panama City. There are 6 bloodmobiles and several delivery vehicles to expedite testing and delivery. 11 tests are run on every unit of blood collected to ensure the safety of the blood supply. We provide blood and blood products to over 20 area hospitals on the gulf coast and that number may increase in the near future.