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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hotline persists despite cuts

At the health call centers located inside the UA College of Pharmacy, it’s not uncommon to hear medical experts talk to frightened mothers and concerned pet owners about medication and exposure.

But due to federal and state budgets providing one percent of its funding to call centers, services like the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center and the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline are now feeling the squeeze.  

“”A lot of the stuff we do here is a labor of love, nobody pays for it. And of course labor of love after a while goes away,”” said Dr. F. Mazda Shirazi, who is the medical director of the Poison and Drug Information Center.

Since its formation in 1955 by

a College of Pharmacy doctor who specialized in toxicology, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center has been providing a 24-hour hotline to answer phone calls from all over the state of Arizona. At the call center, special medical experts can provide information about drug and animal exposures including rattlesnake bites and proper medicine doses for children. On average, the center receives 65,000 calls a year.

“”It’s a pretty cheap service for what we provide,”” Shirazi said. “”I would say a majority of our patients that call, we follow them (to make sure they are OK).””  

He went on to say that despite pressure to cut back on funding, the hotline will remain open and still will be taking calls in the future.

This, however, cannot be said for the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline. Also located in the College of Pharmacy, the riskline specializes in answering questions about exposures for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

“”We get called about really anything that a pregnant woman might be concerned about,”” said Dee Quinn, who is the founder and director of the riskline since 1999.

The riskline center lost its funding from the state Legislature in 2009 due to budget cuts. As a result, phone lines are open five days a week, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“”We hope to be here in the future (but) our funding is gone,”” Quinn said. “”We hope that we are still here to manage the phones, this is my main goal at the moment.””

Despite cutbacks, both call centers are still trying to inform people of their services.  

With an effort to reach the tech-savvy and provide health information to a younger audience, both centers are providing new features online and on smart phones.

With the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline’s new “”Email an Expert”” option provided on their website, people can now email a specialist and receive feedback with in a 24-hour time frame.   

“”I think that there are populations that are more comfortable emailing a question than asking it on the phone or are most used to using email,”” Quinn said.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is also promoting an application that can be downloaded on iTunes and used on an iPhone. The application, which can be found when searching the term “”Poison Help,”” provides call assistance from the closest and available center nearby. The application also provides information and tips regarding poison prevention.

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