The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) this week presented State Representative Kathleen Willis with the IPC Lifesaver Award in recognition of the Representative’s continued commitment to protecting Illinois residents’ health and safety.

The honor was bestowed on state senators and representatives who demonstrated their dedication to the IPC by supporting a dedicated funding source for the state’s only poison center.

“Each year, the IPC takes more than 82,000 calls from Illinois residents with almost half of the cases involving small children,” said IPC Medical Director Michael Wahl, M.D., who presented Representative Willis with the Lifesaver Award on behalf of the organization. “Representative Willis’s support allows the IPC to continue to provide critical information in emergency situations for families and health care providers around the state.   We extend our deepest gratitude to Representative Willis and the ILGA for their efforts to save the IPC.”

Started in 1953, the IPC is the nation’s oldest poison center. The staff has played a critical role in protecting public safety, including working with the Illinois Attorney General’s office to combat the synthetic drug epidemic and serving as the call center during the recent Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

“I’m pleased to have helped save a resource so valuable to the state of Illinois, and I am honored to be recognized on behalf of the IPC,” said Representative Willis.

Nearly 90 percent of cases handled by the IPC can be solved over the phone, saving Illinois families over $52 million each year in unnecessary health care costs by reducing emergency department visits and hospital stays. Through the work of its highly trained staff, the IPC estimates it prevented 35,000 emergency department visits and approximately 20,000 ambulance runs in 2013 alone.

The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit health service that provides the people of Illinois with comprehensive and trusted information and treatment advice on potentially harmful substances via a free, confidential 24-hour hotline staffed by specially trained doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Kathleen Willis is serving her first term in the Illinois General Assembly as State Representative of the 77th District, which includes O’Hare Airport and portions of Addison, Bellwood, Bensenville, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, Stone Park, and Wood Dale.

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