Wednesday, July 22, 2020

TPCN Spotlight Blog: North Texas Poison Educators Cristina Holloway and Lizbeth Petty

This week we spotlight some of our incredible Texas poison educators. Read below to learn more about our North Texas educators, Cristina Holloway and Lizbeth Petty.

Cristina Holloway

I have worked for the North Texas Poison Center for almost 5 years. With a background in public health and health education, the opportunity to educate ALL people on a subject that they probably know little about and can impact them in a big way was a huge draw to the poison center world for me. It has always been important to me to serve others, especially the under-served. My position as a health educator at the poison center allows me to immerse myself in the varying cultures, cities and neighborhoods of our large region. I love to learn and at the poison center I learn something new every day.

Although as a poison educator I do not answer calls, we do get to hear the types of calls that come in. While some are frightening or even sad, others can offer some serious comic relief. No matter what the caller is calling for, our specialists are there to help.

When we are out educating in the community, we always want the people to know that each time they call they will speak to a trained medical professional. We remind them that the PC is open 24/7, assistance is offered in English & Spanish, and it’s free & confidential. It’s also important that they know that people who answer the phones for poison control are just people, just like them, members of our community that are there to help them.

There are many parts of my job that I enjoy, but the best part is presenting to a group where maybe they don’t want to be there, or they don’t want to hear about a certain topic, but then afterwards being so grateful for the information. I think there is something really refreshing about receiving information in a clear, unbiased, factual way. Our education team prides itself on presenting data driven information to the public.

I think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help because oftentimes when an emergency happens, people aren’t sure what to do. Knowing the Poison Help # prepares a family or individual for any poison emergency, and I believe that is empowering.
Now more than ever, having poisoning assistance at your fingertips without even having to leave your home is priceless. No literally, it’s FREE!

Lizbeth Petty

1. Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a SPI. (Length of time worked there/background/passion for this, etc.)

I have a background in Public Health and I knew when I graduated that I was looking for a position in which I could truly be a part of the concerted action to restore and maintain the capacity of the field of Public Health. I get the best of both worlds working within our host institution, Parkland Hospital, which is vital to our community in attending to those who are under-served.

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.

While I do not take calls, I enjoy hearing cases from our SPIs and I take those cases and use them as examples in the community when providing education. I'm also told a lot of stories in the community from my audience.

3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?

I like my audience to connect with me so when I provide education, I am transparent about times I've had to call the Poison Helpline even as an employee. I believe that demonstrates the trust I have for our specialist.

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

I enjoy meeting new people which is why this position is so well suited for me. With just only 4 years underthis role, I am  well known in the community and have made friends basically everywhere I've been.

5. Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?

This is a service that is not well known but important because it is not exclusive. We are able to provide help to people regardless of their race, gender or age. Accidents or unintentional poisonings can happen to anyone and people need to know that we are there to serve them. It is not an extra service with a fee you can purchase. It is a service willing and ready to help our community.

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