Countless individuals have been able to breathe a sigh of relief over the past three decades thanks to the assistance they received from specialists, including nine RNs, at the North Texas Poison Center housed at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, according to a news release. An anniversary party was held in the center in November to celebrate its 30 years of service to the region.
The nurses who work at the center make up 50% of the centers phone staff. The center averages more than 340 calls daily, a significant increase from its humble beginnings of about 30 calls a day, according to the release. Nearly two-thirds are incoming calls to the center and the remaining third follow-up calls from poison specialists to ensure the immediate concern has passed at the home or office. While the number of calls has increased, the underlying cause has remained constant with about half related to things children ingest.
When we started the poison center, the majority of calls were from parents who were frantic because their child had gotten into medicine or household products they shouldnt have, Lena Williams, RN, the centers director from 1984 to 2000, said in the release. Mostly it was due to look-alike medicines that resemble candy, said Williams.
Over the years, the type of calls the center receives has changed. In decades past, a call could come from a farmer who dipped his cows in the wrong liquid. The solution, center staff offered, was to wash his herd. Another call might have been from a farmer asking how much gopher bait could kill a cow.
On those wed phone our Texas A&M University contacts and then relay the information back to the farmer, Williams said in the release.
Today, the majority of calls we receive are related to prescription drugs and potential overdoses, Rachel Harvey, RN, CSPI, center manager, said in the release.
We continue to receive calls about children who have gotten into their parents or grandparents prescription drugs, Harvey said.
Center specialists continue to provide education. Today, as in years past, center staff is on the front lines dispelling myths and squelching rumors, whether its about chemical insecticides used in spraying for West Nile Virus or the effects of synthetic marijuana.
Public education is one of the most important services the poison center provides, Williams said in the release. If you can reach out to children at a young age and stress the importance of poison prevention, its something theyll remember for a lifetime and theyll pass it on to their children.