March 8, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 10



$125,000 HRSA grant funds poison center awareness program

Poison Network logo

The South Texas Poison Center, a division of the department of surgery at the Health Science Center, has received a one-year, $125,000 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to increase awareness of poison center services in the Hispanic community. The South Texas Injury Prevention and Research Center, another program of the UTHSC, is collaborating on the grant project.

The grant's primary focus is the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but efforts also will target several rural counties east of Interstate 37. The project involves developing awareness materials in Spanish and methods of distributing information, and will address the specific toxicology issues of different communities such as Harlingen, Brownsville, Floresville, Cuero, Beeville and Victoria.

"For the poison center to best serve the people of South Texas, we need people to know about us and how to reach us," said Dr. Bill Watson, clinical professor and poison center division chief. "Use of our toll-free, nationwide phone number in emergencies can provide fast answers to poisoning questions and in some cases can help avoid unnecessary visits to emergency rooms. Our specially trained poison specialists, medical director and other consultants are available to provide information and recommendations."

The number is 1-800-222-1222. It can be called 24 hours a day, and callers are connected to the nearest centers in their geographic regions.

HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau recently provided support to maintain and expand services of poison centers nationwide. The South Texas Poison Center is one of six centers in Texas and is part of the national network. This is the first time support for the South Texas Poison Center has come from outside the state, Dr. Watson said.