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Budget cuts could close W.Va. poison center

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With impending state and federal budget cuts, the West Virginia Poison Center is on the brink of shutdown.

Community Outreach Coordinator Carissa McBurney said the Poison Center is looking at 7.5 percent cuts from both the state and federal budgets, and the center was already running on a “bare minimum” of staff.

The center offers assessment and emergency treatment advice on accidental exposures to medications and household substances; plant ingestions; snake, spider and other insect bites and stings; chemical spills; occupational exposures; drug overdoses and poisonings of pets.

McBurney said the center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays, by medical experts specially trained in poisonings.

Currently, eight full-time nurses and one part-time grant writer are employed, as well as McBurney, who has been part-time for several years now.

She said common questions could be anything from a child ingesting a laundry detergent pod to an elderly parent taking too much medicine by mistake or even exposure to carbon monoxide fumes.

But if the center shuts down, where would West Virginians call for answers to these questions …

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