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Meet the IPC Experts – Part 2!

Posted: March 13th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Happy Illinois Poison Prevention Month

This week we continue our “Meet the IPC Experts” series with the second installment of our four part series.  Our staff of experts answered over 86,000 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…

Connie Fischbein, CSPI

“This March will mark my 30th anniversary at the IPC. What keeps me coming back to the IPC are the people we help and my co-workers. There is always something new and unexpected happening every day. The work is still challenging after all these years and that’s a good thing. An example of this is a call we received about a woman who became ill after eating wild mushrooms she found growing in her backyard. It turned out the mushrooms were a potentially deadly species, and had never before been found in Illinois. We advised the patient to go to the hospital. Meanwhile we worked with the hospital staff,  who sent the IPC digital pictures of the mushrooms, and a mycologist at the Field Museum to help identify the sample.  The mushroom was identified as an extremely rare Lepiota species, and at the time, there was no antidote available for this type of poisoning. As a result the patient had to undergo a liver transplant. It was an interesting and unique case.”

Connie’s hobbies include watching movies and reading.  She also enjoys riding her bike in the north suburbs of Chicago. Connie is the proud owner of two Maine Coon cats.

Be sure to join our next twitter chat this Thursday (March 15) at 1 p.m. CST as we answer questions about preventing outdoor and environmental poisoning. Use #poisonctrchat to follow the discussion.

Miguel Razo, CSPI – Nurse

“I’ve been working at the IPC for 12 years. Prior to working at the IPC, I worked at a phlebotomy lab. After working there for a while I wanted something new. When I started at the IPC I was a Poison Information Provider (PIP).   I went to nursing school while working at the IPC and upon graduation became a Certified Specialist in Poison Information (SPI).  I now take more challenging calls. I like the conjunction of math, medical and science that is involved in the IPC. I really enjoy the interesting and novel cases (i.e. new drugs). Occasionally I’ll receive calls about drugs that are labeled in Spanish – and the hospital staff isn’t sure what the drug is. I’ll refer to a Spanish medication drug resource that describes what the drug is, its purpose, etc. Also if a patient brings medication from overseas and the medication is in, say Polish or Arabic, hospitals will also call us to help translate.”

Outside the IPC, Miguel enjoys scuba diving all over the world and playing soccer. Currently, he’s learning how to snowboard.

Jessica Metz, CSPI – Pharmacist

I started the summer of 1998 after completing pharmacy school. I learned a lot about the IPC while doing a rotation here, and automatically fell in love with it. During that time I even had the opportunity to work a booth during National Poison Prevention Week.

I really love the variety of calls we get. I have no idea what type of call I’m going to get before I answer. Every day is interesting, and fascinating. All calls are exciting to me; from the simplest to the most challenging. But the most interesting calls are the ones about super glue! I’m always in awe of the things people do with super glue (intentional and unintentional). I’ve heard all of the following case when superglue was the culprit:

  • Super glue on dentures, eyelashes and eyelids
  • Superglue in nostrils,
  • Superglue as eye drops and toothpaste
  • And dares that include super gluing hands to doors and feet to socks.

There are many more examples but those are the most memorable.

I never want people to feel embarrassed to call us. They should feel comfortable confiding in us – we’re here to help.  Plus, as long as there are 2 year olds, we will get calls.

In addition, because of my knowledge and love of plants everyone here calls me “The Plant Lady”. Whenever there are calls about people who have eaten a plant or had a plant exposure, I’m happy to handle the call. I enjoy it. My motto is: Just don’t eat it…ever!!

Jessica’s hobbies include gardening, reading books and spending time with her son.

Art Kubic, CSPI – Pharmacist

“I started working at the IPC in 2006. Prior to starting I did a toxicology rotation with Tony Burda during pharmacy school. I had no idea what the poison center did until I took that toxicology elective course.  After I found out what happens at the IPC, it was like love at first sight. The best part of the job is talking to the public and hearing the sigh of relief in their voice. I truly enjoy interacting with people. That’s why the most memorable calls are the ones when people actually call back to say thank you after you’ve helped them. “Thank you for being there” – are the greatest words to hear. But every once in a while I’ll get a call about an exotic substance, those are great calls too.  Recently we got a call about a man who was trying to open an antique safe, however while trying to crack it, he hit something and black gas came out. As a result the man had severe eye irritation. We did some detective work and learned that some safes used gases to stop robbers from cracking them. It was pretty cool to learn. In the end the patient sustained no serious eye damage, and was fine. “

When Art is not taking calls in the poison center he travels – as much as possible – which is all the time! He also enjoys music (he used to play the jazz trumpet) and embracing his passion for history (ultimate history buff).

Abrar Baig, CSPI- Pharmacist

“I started almost eight years ago.  It’s amazing how quickly the time has flown by. When I was in pharmacy school, I was unsure as to what I wanted to do after I graduated.  Working in a retail pharmacy setting, as many pharmacists do, didn’t really appeal to me. I was introduced to the possibility of working at the Illinois Poison Center during one of my rotations in Pharmacy School. There are a lot of things that are great about this job. It’s nice to use our clinical knowledge and provide expertise on poisoning and drug related subjects that health care professionals and the general public rely upon when they call us.  It is a great feeling knowing that we are making a positive impact with those who use and need our services..

Years ago, I got a call about someone who accidentally swallowed an earring that was left in a drinking glass, or something similar.  It wasn’t a big deal, as the earring should pass safely and come out in their stool, but it’s  amazing what people  accidentally swallow! My favorite calls are probably the ones where the person did not take enough to have a toxic reaction.  The bottom line is we want people to be ok. I’ll take boring and benign call any day.”

Abrar likes to play basketball, reading and spending time with family.

Stay tuned next Tuesday as we introduce more of our awesome staff.  In case you missed the bunch last week, click here to check them out! And if you ever experience a poison emergency or just have questions, don’t hesitate to call our experts anytime at 1-800-222-1222. And 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 involved!

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Related posts:

  1. Meet the Illinois Poison Center Experts!
  2. New Illinois Law Expands Allergy Treatment Options in Schools
  3. Welcome to the Illinois Poison Center Blog
  4. A Day In the Life of a Poison Center


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