CHICAGO - In his recent budget address, Governor Quinn outlined several fiscal challenges facing Illinois, however, one statewide program - the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) - is easing financial burdens while protecting public health across the state. For every $1 invested in the IPC, there is a more than $13 savings in reduced health care and lost productivity, resulting in an annual return on the state’s investment of $52 million. The IPC’s 24-hour, toll-free helpline cares for nearly 82,000 poison-related cases throughout Illinois annually, with nearly 49 percent of these cases involving children ages five and under.
“The IPC operates at 75 percent the cost of the national average for poison centers. This is achieved by employing expert staff, many who rank among the highest in certification and test scores in the nation, and by leveraging relationships with key stakeholders like our state's hospitals,” said IPC Medical Director Dr. Michael Wahl. “Our standard of work provides a significant return on investment for Illinois, including preventing nearly $16 million in Medicaid costs.”
The IPC’s staff, consisting of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals specially trained in toxicology, treats 90 percent of cases at the site of exposure without referral to a health care facility. In 2013 alone, the IPC prevented an estimated 35,000 emergency department visits and saved approximately 20,000 ambulance runs.
“The Illinois Poison Center is not only a valuable resource for the general public, but it helps the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) identify potential illness outbreaks and chemical exposure situations, such as foodborne outbreaks or mercury spills,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “The Illinois Poison Center is able to collect information and data as the poisonings or illnesses are occurring, enabling IDPH to investigate potential causes and ways to reduce exposure. The Illinois Poison Center also helps IDPH develop new initiatives to address emerging public health problems, such as the current prescription drug abuse and misuse epidemic.”
Although the IPC is a proven life and cost-saving resource for Illinois, due to decreases in the public investment, the state’s only poison center is facing closure on July 1, 2014 if a sustainable funding source is not established. Legislation led by State Senator Don Harmon and Representative Camille Lilly to save the IPC has passed through the Senate and House of Representatives committees and is on second reading.
“If we allow Illinois to become the only state in the nation without poison center services, we are putting tens of thousands families at risk each year,” said Representative Lilly. “I am proud to sponsor legislation that not only saves the lives of children and adults across this state, but is only a wise and important investment.”
Please click here for more information on the Illinois Poison Center’s funding efforts.
If you or someone you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, please call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222.
The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour hotline staffed by specially trained doctors, nurses and pharmacists.