DAYTON, Ohio – Everything about the Premier Health Partners blood drive was familiar to Dena Helsinger, right down to the orange juice she sipped in the Donor Café after making her 21st lifetime donation. But the Friday, Feb. 1 Community Blood Center (CBC) blood drive did break new ground. It was the first in Premier’s new corporate headquarters at 110 N. Main St. in downtown Dayton.  “It’s like being in a whole new city,” she said.

Southwest Ohio’s largest health system purchased the former Fifth Third Bank regional headquarters building in 2011 and by fall of 2012 had moved its corporate offices and approximately 900 employees about two blocks north from the 40 West Fourth St. building.  The Downtown Dayton Partnership heralded, “Already, the move is breathing new life into this key downtown intersection.”

Premier blood drives at 40 West were routinely held in a CBC bloodmobile, but Friday’s drive was indoors on the second floor of the new headquarters, far removed from the bitter cold and snowy sidewalks outside.  “I love donating at work,” Dena said.  “I probably wouldn’t get out and donate nearly as often if I couldn’t.”  She finds Premier’s new home convenient, especially when the weather is more suited for hitting the sidewalks.

“There are so many places to walk to here,” she said.  “In summer there’s music at Courthouse Square.  You don’t feel part of it down the other side.  Two blocks make a big difference.”

Lisa Grogg didn’t mind a short walk to make her 16th lifetime donation. “I work at Merrell Lynch across the street and my friend here told me about it,” she said.  Missy Tallmadge donated for the first time at the drive.  “I had never done it,” she said. “I said, ‘It’s right here in the building, I need to do it.’”

Appointments were filled for the drive, and there was walk-in traffic throughout the day. First-time donors included Judi Rhoades of Kettering who said, “My son’s been telling me I should donate.  He started in high school,” and Darlene Michel from Beavercreek who said, “I always wanted to do it, but never thought I had time. This was a good week!”

Long-time Premier employees Calvin Oliver and Jim Jackson chatted over juice and cookies in the Donor Café.  Jim (52 lifetime donations) recalled starting in college at Virginia Tech, while Calvin (55 lifetime donations) said, “I got started with my father.  He’s also O-negative.  I wanted to know where he was going once and he said, ‘Come on!’ and I got stuck!”

David Calondis of Miamisburg, another long-time Premier donor, made his 79th lifetime donation. “I’m almost in the 10-gallon club!” he said.  “It took me 25 years!”  It’s taking no time at all for Premier employees to settle in to their new home on North Main, and that includes the new setting for their CBC blood drives.

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