We’ve come to the final segment of our four-part “Meet the IPC Expert” 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 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 at times, a bit humorous! We invite you to get to know your poison center experts…
“I’ve worked at the IPC for 14 years. While it was not my childhood dream to work at a poison center, I believe my fate was sealed when as a toddler, my mother called the IPC after I guzzled a bottle of nail polish remover. I started working here straight out of pharmacy school and never looked back. My best friend now refers to me as “Mr. Yuk”.
I find working in the poison center to be a very rewarding experience as most of our callers are so appreciative of the service the IPC provides. It also feeds my desire to stay busy as every other minute I am presented with a phone call on a completely different topic or level of acuity.
I truly value my coworkers; from the most revered toxicology guru’s down through the ranks, everyone is very down to earth. It’s clear that we all are here to help people through what can be very frightening, stressful events.
I always enjoy taking calls on snake envenomations (bites). We don’t have many poisonous snakes indigenous to Illinois but we get the occasional bright young lad who decides to purchase a venomous viper at a reptile swap and eventually becomes the snakes prey. It always gives me an adrenaline rush to call around to the local zoo’s to procure a rare antivenin and have it transported to the hospital via state trooper. When it comes to bat bites – UGH!”
When Erin is not handling calls at the IPC she greatly enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews and watching cooking shows with her husband (then eating out). She also tries to get off the continent as much as possible.
“ I started working at the IPC 3 years ago. I love my job, because we are always helping people. I’ve worked at other call centers, but there is no comparison to the work we do here. Everyone that works at the IPC is always willing to do their best; in the end it’s a gratifying experience. I enjoy handling the very complex calls, because it gives me an opportunity to learn something as well. It is also during those extremely complex cases when the staff really works together.”
When Marco isn’t handling cases in the IPC he is rocking out with his band. He enjoys mixing music, playing the electric guitar and even has experience playing the cello. Marco also loves being outdoors.
“I’ve worked at the IPC for 2 years; however prior to that I worked at the North Texas Poison Center for 4 years. I have been a nurse for 15 years and my professional background is a critical care/ICU/ED nursing. After I became pregnant with my 5th daughter, I decided to look for another opportunity that would allow me to work in the medical field but wouldn’t be too stressful in light of my then, current state. Working at the poison center was a complete 360 degree change from what I had done before. Thankfully, my experience as a nurse prepared me very well. I love my job because no two days are the same. Every day presents a new challenge. In Texas my most memorable case involved a child who ate fire ants (which are very plentiful in Texas) and the mother gave the child ant poison to kill the ants he just ate. Luckily the child did alright after a little in-home treatment, and didn’t have to go to the hospital.
In general I like working with drug/medication calls. We get so many of these calls, and each new case brings a challenge. I enjoy working with doctors and nurses throughout the state to assist in the treatment plan. The calls from moms are often the most rewarding. As a mother myself, I understand the need to reassure them. It is such a great satisfaction to be able to tell a mother that their child will be ok.”
When Amy isn’t taking calls at the IPC, she is spending time with her five daughters, reading books and volunteering in her community.
“I started working at the Illinois Poison Center in 1992. This year will mark my 20th anniversary! I wanted to work for the call center after taking a toxicology elective in pharmacy school. I love this job because I love helping people. Working here also provides me an opportunity to keep growing and learning as a professional. The work is interesting and I really enjoy the relationship I have with my co-workers, especially when we work together to treat a patient. There are those calls where I can help and reassure a caller quickly, that I feel most useful. My goal on each and every call is to be as thorough as possible.”
Outside of the call center Karen’s hobbies are taking care of her family and cooking.
“I started working at the IPC in April, 2000. Prior to working at the IPC I was an ambulance paramedic. I would hear people talk about the poison center, so when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to look into working at the IPC. The best part of the job is working with my co-workers to treat a patient, and helping frantic parents. I love being able to calm them down when their upset. Receiving a ‘thank you’ is the best feeling.”
“I’ve been with the IPC for 13 years. I love the people I work with. I also enjoy helping people that are in need of our assistance; putting people at ease is a good feeling. Empowering parents/people to take care of the problem themselves at home is my goal. Any calls related to insects are my favorite, especially when the caller is really squeamish.”
Jessica enjoys reading, listening to music and building her collection of dragonfly-inspired jewelry, art, etc.
There you have it! We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting our call center staff. As you can see, each expert brings something uniquely special to the IPC, but they all share a desire to help people!
The IPC’s mission is dedicated to reducing the incidence and injury of poisoning in our communities through immediate expert telephone treatment recommendations, innovative public and healthcare professional education and focused research.