Panhandle Poison Center could close because of budget cuts - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Panhandle Poison Center could close because of budget cuts

AMARILLO, TX- The Panhandle Poison Control Center says they are on the verge of having to close their doors.

For over a decade, the center has been a valuable lifeline to thousands of parents.

It now appears that resource may quickly fade.

"We've had cuts each year for the past three years," Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo with the poison center said.

The center could close as early as August 2013 because a portion of funding allocated through a tax paid on phone bills will no longer be available to them. 

"We're at the point where we don't have enough staff to be able to cut any further so at this point is when we have to look at closing the center," Jaramillo said. 

The center says it costs between $800,000 to $1 million a year to keep a center like the one here in Amarillo up and running.

The center says they've suffered about $250,000 in cuts since the start of the recession, leaving them with few options.

It's news that's hard for mothers like Anita Cofer to swallow.

"It's sad simply because of the benefits that I have personally received through the center," Cofer said.

Her most recent call to the facility was back in April when her 16-year-old son accidentally overdosed on medication.

"The lady that answered the phone was very well trained," Cofer said. "I believe it was her patients and gentleness that was able to get me to calm down and listen. She was very detailed, accurate and to the point.  For people to not have that information is not going to be so good for Amarillo."

The 1-800 number will still be active. However, instead of your call being answered at the offices here in Amarillo, your call will be sent to another poison center somewhere in Texas.

"There will likely be callers who will get a busy signal," Jaramillo said when voicing her concerns about the possible closure.

With no "local" center here, residents may also turn to 9-1-1 for immediate help.

In return, it could tie up resources there if medication related questions are not an emergency.

The Amarillo dispatch center says this is the first time they've heard about the potential closure and declined to comment about how this might impact resources there.

The poison center adds that local events like the "Medication Clean out" will no longer exist if their doors close.

If you'd like to voice your concerns to legislators, the poison center says you should contact Congressman Mac Thornberry.

You can write him at the following address:

2209 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

You may also visit him on the web at

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