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Old 01-29-2009, 11:44 AM
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Default Washington Poison Center hotline may go dead

In the News
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28883214

Washington Poison Center hotline may go dead

By DEBORAH FELDMAN / KING 5 News
KING5
updated 4:51 p.m. PT, Wed., Jan. 28, 2009

SEATTLE – State budget cuts could cause the death of the Washington Poison Center’s toll-free hotline.

The center is a private service that relies on state and federal funds. Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed cutting its funding from $4 million to $2 million a year.

It’s an amount the center says it can’t absorb.

"Without that funding, we won't be able to continue to pay the specialists that man the phone,” said Jim Williams, the center’s executive director.

The spokesperson for the Washington Poison Control says if the budget cuts are approved, they’ll likely have to end their hotline service at the end of the year.

Gina Frazzini is a mother of two and has seen the inside of her pediatrician’s office plenty of times. Not long ago, she was able to avoid an extra trip there by calling the state hotline.

"I think someone ate a bunch of toothpaste and had to see if too much fluoride was … what would happen,” said Gina.

"They told me things to watch for. They reassured me it was probably fine, and some tips for the future."

Dr. Sherri Zorn says having the 24-hour hotline is a tremendous asset, not only to her patients, but to pediatricians and emergency room doctors across the state. Roughly 20 percent of the calls to the hotline come from health care professionals.

"They have access to more information than I possibly could, even if I spent three hours researching it on my computer. And fact is, if someone's really been poisoned by something, you only have minutes to hours to make the correct diagnosis and to treat them,” said Zorn.

Washington Poison Control fields about 250 calls a day, the vast majority of which are children.

The call center also advises about adults and pets who have ingested strange things.
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