Oregon Poison Center Expands Coverage to Alaska

10/24/01    Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Health & Science University's Oregon Poison Center is now able to help more people in the Northwest. Two federal grants, totaling $248,000 are allowing the center to expand to help callers from Alaska as well as to increase its outreach education throughout its former service territory of Oregon and northern Nevada.

Also, additional federal funding throughout the country has provided a single, nationwide toll-free number to call in case of suspected poisoning. The new number, 1 800 222-1222, will allow people to call anywhere in the country and be routed to their closest poison center. Ready accessibility of high-quality poison control services has proven to decrease the severity of illness, prevent deaths, and significantly reduce health care costs.

"This will make it easier for people to get help when and where they need it. People don't have to remember different poison center numbers depending on where they are," Sandy Giffin, director of the Oregon Poison Center, said. Alaskan calls started coming in to the Oregon Poison Center September 1. During the first month, there were about 750 calls.

"It shows that our center is being well utilized from Alaskan providers and residents," Giffin said.

The new funding allows a more comprehensive outreach education program that includes training health care providers, increasing public education programs, developing videotapes on poison, and conducting needs assessment surveys for different communities. Tonya Drayden, R.N., M.S.N., C.S.P.I., poison center education coordinator, will manage these activities. The grant program, managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services, is a result of The Poison Center Enhancement and Awareness Act signed into law in February 2000. This federal legislation provides supplemental funding to enhance the current level of service provided by the 53 certified regional poison centers throughout the country. The Oregon Poison Center is a 24-hour emergency information resource for health care professionals and the public.