Monday, July 23, 2018

TPCN Spotlight: Veronica Stoller, South Texas Poison Center Director

1.  Tell me your history with poison control. How long have you worked there/what is your background:

I have been with the South Texas Poison Center since early 2018.  Before this appointment I was working with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.   I have been working in various operations and administration roles in the public and private sector for the last 20 years. I am excited to be a part of the Texas Poison Control Network.

2.  What do you think is one of the most important aspects of poison control services?

The most important aspect of the poison control service is a role that specialists in poison information (SPI) play as direct service providers in emergency situations.  Through poison centers the public has access to our experienced and knowledgeable healthcare practitioners.  Our team of SPIs offer poison prevention and treatment advice in English and Spanish.

3.  What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

I enjoy my job because I am making a difference in someone’s life every day.  I have the privilege of working with a great team to achieve the mission of the South Texas Poison Center (STPC) and the Texas Poison Control Network (TPCN). As a team, we serve thousands of people a year with a strong service commitment and dedication to the community. My role is to ensure that service operations of the center are efficient and effective. I have a unique opportunity to guide the organization and provide a vision for the future by creating strategies and infrastructures. 

4. What do you think the public needs to know regarding poison control?

I think the public needs to know that the poison centers are staffed with certified medical practitioners.  The value that their knowledge and experience brings to the center is significant.  I would also like them to know that our teams truly get invested in every call and ensuring the communication of accurate healthcare information to improve the outcomes in each specific case.

5.  Share a funny story here that might have happened on the job.

As a new Director there have been plenty of funny and frustrating first experiences. The most recent happened when I was scheduled to attend my first CSEC meeting in Austin.  I had my directions and parking information on hand.  I timed my travel to ensure that I would arrive on time. Once I arrived to the CSEC building I could not find the parking garage and did not have much time to spare.  I called the office they reiterated the directions but I still could not locate the parking area. After a few times (estimating about 4 times) around the building, I finally saw the entrance.  If you have never visited the building, the entrance to the parking garage actually slopes down underneath the building but it is masked by the public sidewalk. There is no garage entrance sign as one would expect.  Needless to say, I parked, made my way up to the offices and with only a few minutes to spare-another crisis averted!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Beware of Rattlesnakes this Time of Year!

The Texas summer heat is in full effect, and it is important to be aware of snakes in rural and wildlife areas, and particularly rattlesnakes. Since many people enjoy hiking, biking and other outdoor activities during the summer months, there is an increased chance of running into rattlesnakes.

Encountering a rattlesnake in the wild can be a scary experience, but it is important to stay calm and give the snake plenty of space. You want to make sure there are at least five feet between you and the snake at all times.  While rattlesnakes are venomous, the good news is that if you leave it alone, it will most likely leave you alone too. If you have children or pets with you when you come in contact with a snake, make sure to protect them by keeping them as far away from it as possible.

Recently, people have found rattlesnakes in their backyards hiding under shrubs, piles of debris and anything else they can easily hide under. While it might be tempting to get close to the snake to get a better look or even try to kill it, it is better to give it space and leave it alone.  Approaching a snake will only increase your chances of getting bitten.  Contact a professional to remove the snake if it’s in your property. It is important to remind the professional when they come out to remove the snake to also to check the rest of your yard for other snakes, just to make sure.

If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, call 911 or get to a hospital right away! Call poison control while help arrives or while on your way to the hospital at 1-800-222-1222. 

Initial symptoms may include:

      Bloody discharge from wound


      Progressive swelling starting at the bite sites

      Burning and redness

      Dizziness and/or blurred vision

      Nausea and vomiting


      Fainting or convulsions


Don’t wait for symptoms to show up, get help right away!