Illinois Poison Center Faces Closure Without Funding

Illinois was the first state to get a poison center about 60 years ago

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    The Illinois Poison Center will close its doors in June if it does not receive more funding from the state.

    Accidentally ingested a poisonous substance? In June, you may need to figure out what to do in that situation without help from the Illinois Poison Center.

    Officials from the facility say they may close due to a lack of funding. Since 2009, state and federal funding for the center has been cut by 43 percent. The center said it needs more money from the state by June to prevent closure.

    Illinois was the first state to get a poison center about 60 years ago. If it closes, it will be the only state without one.

    The poison center offers free help services to those who have been poisoned on their 24-hour helpline managed by doctors, nurses and pharmacists. More than 80,000 calls are accepted annually.

    The center also provides toxicology training for health care professionals and offers educational outreach to Illinois communities.

    Since the funding cuts began in 2009, the center has lost $1.5 million in funding.

    "We have responded to our funding losses through staff cuts and other reductions, but, unfortunately, we are now at the point where additional cutbacks will harm our ability to continue our life and cost-saving work," Dr. Michael Wahl, the center's medical director, said in a press statement.

    Dr. Wahl also said the closure will impact public safety in Illinois and increase costly ambulance runs and emergency room visits.