By Rachel Dove
CHARLESTON – Potential poisons are everywhere and could cause serious harm to you or your loved ones.
If the West Virginia Poison Center no longer existed, who would you call? How would you seek help? Who would be watching out for new poisoning trends in our state? Who would be teaching health care professionals about how to treat people who have been poisoned? Who would know where the antidotes were in our state? Who would be making sure poison prevention programs existed?
What would you do if your child ate a laundry detergent pod or if your teenager began abusing medications? If your elderly parent took too much of his or her medicine by mistake or if your co-worker had a chemical spilled on them at work? If a boy scout or girl scout gets bitten by a poisonous snake or if you were pregnant and were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes?
What would happen if there was another chemical spill here? There are lots of chemicals being transported on our interstates, highways, roads and waterways. If there was an accident, who would have all of the toxicology databases at their fingertips with the staff that knows exactly how to use those databases and the information in them to help make medical decisions?
The West Virginia Poison Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by medical experts (doctors, pharmacists, and nurses) specially trained in poisonings. The center handles more than 42,000 calls from West Virginians each year. However, the West Virginia Poison Center is not simply for people calling from home. About 35 percent of calls to the center are from medical professionals; for example, those in emergency rooms and pediatricians. They also call the Poison Center to obtain the most up-to-date poison management recommendations.
Budget cuts that were voted on and passed during the final hours of the 2014 West Virginia Legislative Session will effect the center, and it is believed the loss of funding will lead to its closure.
If the West Virginia Poison Center were to close, West Virginia would be the only state in the nation without poison center coverage.
A local mom and daycare employee, Crystal Wood, said, “I am scared of what will happen if West Virginia does not have a poison center. The West Virginia Poison Center is vital to the public’s safety. The West Virginia Poison Center saves lives. You never know when you may need the West Virginia Poison Center.”
Poison Center officials urge West Virginia residents to contact their state representatives, as well as those serving on the national level, to make their concerns known.