Bill would allocate $1.4M over 2 years for Poison Control Center
By Andrew Doud
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
The center that helps people in North Carolina when they have been exposed to poison, and even helps doctors figure out how to treat you is over budget.
Eyewitness News learned on Monday how a new plan could help, but not entirely fix the problem.
Every day calls from across the state come to the Poison Control Center in west Charlotte.
"Our two main jobs with the public are to answer questions and do what we call triage; can you stay at home, do you need to go to an emergency room, do you need to call your doctor?" said Dr. Marsha Ford.
They don't just field questions from the public, but also doctors.
"With health care providers, we're actually supplying toxicology expertise that most hospitals around the state don't have and we actually help physicians diagnose cases, manage cases and we do call back to make sure things are going OK with the patient," said Ford.
The most recent numbers from 2009 shows those services cut medical costs across the state by about $9 million -- mostly by eliminating unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Yet over the last three years, the state has cut the budget for the Poison Control Center.
Now, it costs more to run the center than the amount of money it gets from the state.
Mecklenburg County Rep. Rob Bryan introduced a bill that would allocate $1.4 million each year for the next two years.
"It's less of a burden on them and more of a shared burden on the state," said Bryan.
The Carolinas Healthcare System pays the rest of the operating cost.
Between 2010 and 2011, the call center received more than 200,000 calls, and Bryan said it is an important asset that saves lives.