Thursday, March 5, 2020

TPCN SPI Spotlight: Hollie Blair, Central Texas Poison Center

Hollie Blair

1.      Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a Specialist in Poison Information (SPI).
I graduated from pharmacy school in 1990 and worked in retail pharmacy for 5 years before coming to the Poison Center.  During that time, I was diagnosed with undifferentiated spondylarthropy and was unable to stand for a prolonged time due to pain.  As a result, I had to find a job where I could sit down.  I called the College of Pharmacy to talk to some of my prior instructors to see if they had any ideas for where I might be able to work.  Luckily, Doug Borys had called the College of Pharmacy only a few days prior to my call, and he was looking for pharmacists to work at the newly formed Poison Center in Temple.  Talk about good timing!  I interviewed shortly afterward and have been working here at Poison Center for 25 years this June.

2.      I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call. One story I recall was a toddler that ingested a bite out of his grandmother’s post-mastectomy prosthetic breast!  We assured her it was not toxic but was a choking hazard.  The child remained asymptomatic.

3.      What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?
The people at the Poison Center may feel like they are playing a game of 20 questions with you, but rest assured they are only gathering information which will help them to make a well-informed recommendation!

4.      What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
The thing I love most about my job is the diversity of calls we get on a daily basis and having the opportunity to help people during a stressful situation.

5.      Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?
I believe having the Poison Center as a resource for emergency help is vital to the growing burden on our emergency rooms.  If we can determine that a patient can be monitored at home, it will save both time and money for both the patient and the healthcare system in general.

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