Press Release

May 17, 2010


State Public Health Director Recognizes the Illinois Poison Center for Excellence in Pediatric Care

Illinois Poison Center, Community Service Award

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and The Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program honored the Illinois Poison Center with a special pediatric care award today for their contributions to childhood care. The Ron W. Lee, M.D. – Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards are given annually by IDPH and EMSC to recognize those dedicated to pediatric emergency care and childhood injury prevention initiatives. Individuals or organizations can be nominated in one of three award categories - Lifetime Achievement, Clinical Excellence and Community Service.

“The Illinois Poison Center truly excels at providing support and addressing the needs of children and families in Illinois. The number of lives the Illinois Poison Center has touched is remarkable – their exemplary work helps to ensure a healthy future for all Illinoisans,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director.

This year’s recipients of the Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards are:

  • Community Service – Illinois Poison Center, Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council
  • Clinical Excellence – Dennis L. Vickers, MD, Chairman of Pediatrics, Sinai Children’s Hospital
  • Lifetime Achievement – To be announced

The Illinois Poison Center, a program of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, has been in existence since 1953 and is currently the largest center in the country. The Illinois Poison Center provides the people of Illinois with access to comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances through a 24-hour hotline for both English and non-English speaking callers. The hotline is staffed by specially trained medical experts, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. In 2009, 66% of calls to the Poison Center were concerning children and adolescents. While poisonings affect everyone, small children are one of the most at-risk groups for poisonings.

Studies have shown that if no poison center is available, 70% of would-be callers would go to the nearest emergency department (ED) instead. For children, a trip to the ED can be a traumatic experience. By providing poisoning information and assistance, the Poison Center saves many children a visit to the ED.

“The dedicated staff of the Illinois Poison Center has handled millions of calls from citizens and clinicians from around the state, saving countless lives year after year. But, the Poison Center doesn’t just treat the problem, they are instrumental in helping to prevent poisonings from occurring in the first place,” said Dr. Arnold.

Through its education and outreach activities, the Poison Center has reached over 300,000 Illinois residents in 2009 alone. The Poison Center promotes poison prevention directly to children through its interactive Web site which contains information as well as fun, educational games for children. The Illinois Poison Center also serves as the state’s leading source of advanced toxicology training and consultation for healthcare professionals that care for children.

The Illinois EMSC program is a collaborative effort of the Illinois Department of Public Health and Loyola University Medical Center. It was established in 1994 to ensure the emergency medical care needs of children are adequately addressed.

The Ron W. Lee, M.D. Excellence in Pediatric Care awards are presented each May. Dr. Lee was the director of emergency medicine at Loyola University Medical Center and was instrumental in establishing and fostering the EMSC program in Illinois. He passed away in 1998.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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