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State, federal funding leads to promising future for Iowa Poison Control Center

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The Iowa Poison Control Center will continue to provide life-saving poisoning guidance thanks to new state and federal funding.

Last week, the Iowa Poison Control Center learned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the Iowa Department of Human Services’ request to match state funds for the center. The news ends an uncertain time for the Iowa Poison Control Center who last year urged Governor Branstad and the state legislature to support full funding for the Poison Center, located in Sioux City. Facing a $600,000 deficit, the Poison Center was slated to close on December 31, 2014.

“A bill was passed last session to take our $600,000 in state funding and obtain a federal match as allowed under the Children’s Health Insurance Program. While this was a huge step in allowing us to stay open, news of CMS’s matching funds gives us hope the funding may provide an ongoing solution to sustain the Poison Center into the future as long as state funding continues to match with federal funds available,” says Linda Kalin, Director of the Iowa Poison Control Center. “We are committed to working with policy makers to insure sustained funding in state fiscal year 2016.”

Each year, the Iowa Poison Control Center handles approximately 50,000 calls from private individuals as well as Iowa health facilities, asking for guidance on poisonings from household products to possible drug overdoses. Nearly 90% of the public calls received by the Poison Center are managed over the telephone in the home.

Those calls have prevented thousands of trips to the emergency department and saved millions in health care costs. In 2014, the Poison Center saved the state and its residents more than $12 million in health care costs and another $5.7 million in Medicaid savings.

Despite the savings, declines in state and federal funding and state grants over the years have proven financially challenging for the Iowa Poison Control Center. This is until the latest financial commitment from state and federal funding.

“The Poison Center is a proven, cost-effective program saving lives and millions of dollars each year. We are very appreciative of our elected leaders for recognizing the value of the Iowa Poison Control Center,” adds Kalin. “Everyone from the Governor and the Iowa Legislature, including our local representatives, to the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, Wellmark, and Iowa hospitals, including sponsoring organizations UnityPoint Health and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, has played a vital role in helping us fulfill our commitment to exceptional service to the residents of Iowa. We are grateful for the continued support of so many community partners who also believe in our mission and our role in keeping Iowa residents safe.”

The Iowa Poison Control Center provides free, 24-hour immediate treatment advice for poison emergencies through a national toll-free telephone hotline as well as information about poisons and poison prevention.

Calls to the Poison Center are answered by expert registered nurses and pharmacists who are certified specialists in poison information. The specialists work under the direction of physicians who are board certified in medical toxicology. In addition, a volunteer Board of Directors, who share the Poison Center’s passion for exceptional service and outstanding value, support the Iowa Poison Control Center through their leadership and guidance.