Versiti will operate a new, 3,500-square-foot community resource and permanent blood donation center at ThriveOn King, which is slated to open in June 2023 at the former Gimbel & Schuster’s building at 2153 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Versiti’s center will serve as a community hub for the organization and will focus on providing resources to address health care disparities in Milwaukee neighborhoods and beyond through training and employment, education and blood donation, according to a news release.
The overall focus of the $105 million ThriveOn King project is addressing social determinants of health and providing access to early childhood education to surrounding neighborhoods. In April, ThriveOn Collaboration announced that Malaika Early Learning Center will open a 14,000-square-foot early childhood care and education center on the first floor. The development will also include community gathering space, 89 residential units for seniors and families and 100,000 square feet of office space. It will serve as a physical home for ThriveOn Collaboration, which includes the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Royal Capital.
“Versiti has proudly been part of the Milwaukee community for 75 years. While we have made great strides to address racial disparities in blood and organ donation, we know there is much work yet to do,” said Chris Miskel, president and CEO of Versiti. “Through advocacy and community outreach, Versiti hopes to further establish itself as a trusted resource and agent of change for the donors and patients we serve.”
According to the new release, as an anchor tenant at the ThriveOn King building, Versiti will bring expertise around:
Employment and Job Skill Training – Versiti is always hiring and recruiting top talent. At the ThriveOn King location, Versiti will provide access to training and development resources for individuals looking to start or advance a career in health care. Job skill training will include phlebotomy training, along with other job preparedness resources, including job fairs, resume writing and interview workshops.
Education – Patients with conditions like sickle cell disease, cancer, lupus or organ failure require frequent blood transfusions. They are more likely to find a match and less likely to have physical reactions to blood or organs donated by donors of the same race. In this space, Versiti will partner with experts from the local community to educate and raise awareness about the importance of donor diversity and its impact on recipients.
Blood Donation – Every day, more than 10,000 patients — from those undergoing long-term transfusion treatments to accident victims — rely on the generosity of blood donors to survive. The percentage of ethnically diverse patients who have a need for rare blood continues to increase. Yet, ethnically diverse blood donors continue to be a very small part of the overall blood donor population nationwide. Providing access to a permanent blood donor center in the community will allow Versiti to reach more donors, ultimately providing a better quality of life for patients who require rare blood.
“Versiti’s commitment to health equity and resources for the community aligns with the dedication of ThriveOn Collaboration to make generational investments in the well-being of Milwaukee communities aimed at eliminating racial, health, economic and social disparities,” said Greg Wesley, co-lead of the ThriveOn Collaboration. “Offering new resources and opportunity to the community, based on their feedback and collaboration, is a key goal coming to fruition.”