Patients in the Halifax area who relied on home visits to give blood samples say they're scrambling after the Capital District Health Authority abruptly ended its contract with Atlantic Blood Collection.
There are roughly 50 people who count on home visits including John Thompson, who was supposed to have blood taken on Monday.
The 80-year-old man said he finds it difficult to get to a clinic after a recent surgery and was prepared to pay for a home visit so a blood sample could be taken and tested.
"It seems so inhuman to just stop a service without any notice or anything," said Thompson.
The Capital District Health Authority announced last week it will no longer accept blood samples from Atlantic Blood Collection because of concerns for patient safety and blood quality.
The health authority said the move, which cancels blood collection services at 11 locations in the Halifax Regional Municipality, came after months of questions about the quality of the work. Officials said there were concerns samples were too small and taking too long to be transported to hospital.
Samples collected before May 9 will still be processed, but none after that date.
Patients can still have blood samples taken a various Capital District Health Authority facilities, but some who relied on the home collection service said that isn't good enough.
"My husband is not that well, he's quite old. He's 91 and he needs this service," said Barbara Phillips.
Her husband John is on warfarin following a heart attack 10 years ago and the couple relied on Atlantic Blood Services to come to their Dartmouth condo and take his blood once a week.
"I'm very angry that they've taken this service away," she said.
'We did our best to correct everything'
The Capital District Health Authority hired an auditor last year to evaluate the performance of independent blood collectors. It said the workers require no certification or licensing and are prone to making mistakes while handling blood.
Janice Hopper, the owner of Atlantic Blood Collection, acknowledged mistakes were made but said they weren't life threatening. The company estimates it collected blood 27,000 times last year.
"There were errors and we did our best to correct everything. We certainly wanted to work with them," she said Monday.
Shauna Thompson, administrative director for the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Capital District Health Authority, said Atlantic Blood Collection was audited last year and the two sides came up with a plan to correct the issues.
But, Thompson said, it only got worse.
"As a result it just indicated to us that there was a continued non-compliance with our agreement," she said.
"Due to the concerns we had with the number of errors, we felt that it was in the best interest of our patients to terminate that contract."
There are 76 independent blood collectors in the Halifax Regional Municipality and 14 of them conduct home blood collections.
Atlantic Blood Collection handled more clients than any of the others, with five collection sites in Dartmouth, four in the Bedford-Sackville-Fall River area and two in Halifax.
The Capital District Health Authority said Monday it is not entering into any more contracts with independent blood collectors and the ones they rely on now will be subject to random performance audits.