Poison information, education system needs protection

“Never look a gift horse in the mouth,” but that is exactly what the state of New Jersey has recently done by cutting funds to the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES), and potentially foregoing federal funds of over $150,000.

The federal funds come with strings attached and cannot be accessed without the state commitment of dollars.

New Jersey receives federal grant funds contingent on the state maintaining its own financial commitment to the center’s operation. In decreasing the state commitment by 32 percent over the last four years, state residents take a much bigger hit of decreased federal funding.

The math doesn’t add up, and we strongly urge our newly elected executive and legislative officials to take a more informed look at the state emergency services system and the part the NJPIES plays within it. Studies in New Jersey and other states continue to show that millions of dollars are saved annually by poison control center interventions that handle problems at the scene and prevent unnecessary and expensive hospital visits.

Sadly, the NJPIES budget has been cut consistently for the past four years, just recently with a 22 percent budget cut for the fiscal year 2010. The system is currently running on bare bones, but still providing 24/7 free telephone support to all New Jersey residents, Emergency Medical Services professionals and doctors in New Jerseybased hospitals. The expertise and service is unparalleled and needs to be protected not impinged.

We urge our new governor and legislators to learn more about our services and support NJPIES as a progressive budgetsaving and health-reform measure.
Dr. Steven Marcus
Executive Medical Director
New Jersey Poison
Information and Education System