Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TPCN Spotlight: Melody Gardner, North Texas Poison Control Center

This week’s blog will showcase one of our six poison control center managing directors. Here you will find out why they love their job and why poison control services are important to them.

Melody Gardner is the North Texas Poison Control Center Managing Director.

Tell me your history with poison control. How long have you worked there/what is your background: I have a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and Nursing Administration. I started my career as a Registered Nurse and then completed training to become a Trauma Nurse Clinician at Parkland hospital, where I cared for some of the most critically ill trauma and burn patients in the North Texas area. I have been at the North Texas Poison Center for four years, starting out as a manager and then moving into my current position as Managing Director in 2012.

What do you think is one of the most important aspects of poison control services? The Poison Centers not only assist with day to day poisoning situations, both in the home and in health care settings, but we also actively monitor any new trends, such as the new designer drugs popular amongst teens. Poison Centers are often the ones who hear of new, dangerous products before anyone else. We also are experts in disaster preparedness and handle phone calls related to potential dangers at large events in our area.

What do you enjoy most about your job and why? As a parent, I know how important it is to get the quickest, most reliable information to care for your child. I enjoy my job because by overseeing the operations of the Poison Center, I feel like I help contribute to making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. I believe in what the staff at the Poison Center does on a daily basis, because oftentimes, the relief you can sense from a mother’s voice on the phone is a reward in itself.

What do you think the public needs to know regarding poison control? The public should know that no question is stupid and our highly trained staff is not here to judge you, they are here to help and offer you the best medical advice they can. The call is free, peace of mind is priceless! We have doctors, nurses and pharmacists available 24/7/365.

Share a funny story here that might have happened on the job. One of our specialists received a call from a school nurse asking about how to clean up after a student had a case of smallpox. We questioned her about the case and discussed that it probably wasn’t smallpox (since that disease has been eradicated in the U.S.) After she insisted that it was smallpox, our specialist used a code in our computer system that indicates there was a case of smallpox. About 10 minutes later, I was receiving phone calls through the real-time surveillance system at the CDC asking what was going on in Texas with small pox. Needless to say, it made for an interesting discussion.

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