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Meet the Illinois Poison Center Experts!

Posted: March 6th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Calling the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) during an emergency can be a very stressful experience. As a parent calling about your child, your only concern is your child’s well-being; as a nurse or physician calling about a patient in your care, your focus is ensuring the best outcome for that patient. Even in a situation that requires you call to the IPC for yourself, YOU are your #1 concern.

Hysteria, panic, urgency, fear… are just some of the feelings that may take over when you call the IPC, however it’s the calming, reassuring and caring voice of the confident professional on the other line that makes the situation seem manageable. Now it’s time to  meet the people on the other side of the call, our experts!

Over the next four weeks the IPC will introduce its staff of experts who answered over 80,000 calls from the general public and healthcare professionals in Illinois last year. In their own words, learn more about their professional background, favorite parts of the job, most interesting cases, and even learn what they enjoy doing outside the poison center. These interviews are interesting, sincere, personal, and a bit humorous at times! We invite you to get to know your poison center experts …

Jerome Dimaano, CSPI – Emergency Room Nurse

“I’ve been working for the IPC full-time for 14 years. I like working with the staff because we always work as a team. Plus, the work is very rewarding, because at the end of the day I know we helped prevent or treat a potential toxic exposure/poisoning. One of my most memorable cases was a snake bite where an antidote was more than 30 miles away from the hospital. We had to coordinate with the Illinois State Police to transport. The patient got the antidote in time and did very well. Although I like taking most of the calls we get but I like managing aspirin and diphenhydramine calls. Pretty exciting stuff, everyday.”

Jerome’s hobbies include reading and playing as much golf as he can during the summer. But what does he love doing most of all? – spending time with his 16, 5 and 7 year old boys.

Be sure to catch Jerome this Thursday (March 8 ) during the IPC Twitter chat series – use #poisonctrchat to follow the discussion and ask questions.

Cheryl Webster, CSPI – Pharmacist

“I’ve been working at the poison center since I earned my doctorate in pharmacy 15 years ago. The most rewarding part of my job is helping callers, both the general public and other health care professionals.  I also enjoy working with my co-workers as a team using our different education backgrounds and areas of expertise to answer questions about uncommon exposures.  My favorite calls are those about drugs/medications because they give me the opportunity to use my knowledge of pharmacy.”

When Cheryl is not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling.  One of her favorite trips was to Yellowstone National Park.  She also loves to play Scrabble.

Reggie Brown, CSPI  – Physician

“I started working at the IPC 10 years ago; after completing my residency and fellowship. The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the patient management. The staff and my co-workers are great to work with, as well.   I am never bored because of variety of the calls and cases we handle every day.

Helping the public is rewarding, especially when a parent thanks you and truly appreciates your help.

A few years ago I received a call from a doctor in India. He told me he found our number in the reference section of a textbook. Nevertheless he was calling for us to help him treat a very ill patient in his care. I worked with the doctor for hours; faxing and emailing information. After the case had been managed, I heard from the doctor a few weeks later in an email to inform  me the patient lived, and thank me profusely for my help – it felt good, knowing that what I do is actually doing some good.”

Reggie is very active outdoors. He enjoys traveling and biking. He also labels himself an “advanced beginner” in skiing.

Sharon Cook, PIP – Biology

“I started working at the IPC in 2000. Even though I never saw myself working at a poison center as a child, I remember watching TV and seeing the Mr. Yuk commercials in between cartoons on Saturday morning. So the jingle and the concept of the poison center were deeply ingrained at an early age. After I started working at the IPC, I found it really rewarding to help people who were very agitated at the beginning but when the call’s over they’re calm and relaxed.’

Whenever Sharon is not in the call center, she is volunteering, traveling, and/or reading –gossip blogs included!

Be sure to catch Sharon this Thursday (March 8 ) during the IPC Twitter chat series – use #poisonctrchat to follow the discussion and ask questions.

Todd Sigg, CSPI – Pharmacist “I completed Pharmacy School in 1995. Afterwards I did a residency at Rush (where the IPC) was located from July 1995-June 1996).  While there I learned about the IPC and decided to do a rotation with the poison center in January 1996. I started working for the IPC in July 1996 after completing my residency. The IPC was expanding at the time, and it was the perfect opportunity. The best thing about working for the poison center is that no two days are the same; every day is truly different than the last. Early in my career I received a call from a new mom who had a very…unique question – Is dog’s milk harmful? In an attempt to capture a “cute” moment by taking a picture of her three month old baby and her dog’s new litter of puppies, she set the baby and the pups together. When she returned from getting a camera, she found her child suckling on the breast of the mother dog. When she called us she was hysterical. I calmed her down and told not to worry – the child should be fine. It is definitely one of my most memorable cases.”

Outside of the IPC, Todd’s hobbies include spending time with his kids and gardening. And here is his trademarked quote — Just because I’m crazy, doesn’t mean I’m wrong” – a Todd Sigg original.

So there you have it! We hope you’ve enjoyed our first installment. If you ever experience a poison emergency or just have a question (s), don’t hesitate to call our experts anytime at 1-800-222-1222.

If you have talked with one of these experts, tell us about your experience on our comments section below or here. To learn more about the types of calls these experts receive in a typical day, read “A Day in the Life of a Poison Center”. Don’t forget to celebrate Illinois Poison Prevention Month throughout the entire month of March. Click here to learn how you can get FREE materials and/or training!

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