ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE : A Cause Well Worth Supporting

Once again the Regional Poison Control Center at UCI Medical Center has been granted a last-minute reprieve from shutting down and cutting off the 51,000 emergency callers from four counties who call each year seeking its expert emergency help.

The center was first scheduled to close May 8 after UCI officials decided that they could no longer afford the $500,000 it was costing them to subsidize the operation. That was in addition to $300,000 that the state provides. After strong community reaction and concern about closing the poison control hot line, the medical center agreed to keep it open a few more weeks while the community sought other funding.

Just as the medical center was ready again this week to pull the plug and end the round-the-clock service, the George Hoag Family Foundation came to the rescue with a $150,000 donation. That will keep the poison control center open for at least another 90 days. That's good news for the physicians, paramedics and the many frantic parents who call after someone, in most cases a child under the age of 6, has swallowed some substance that could be deadly.

It's also good news for the community. It now has another 90 days to answer the plea for public donations and to find a more permanent source of funds that will save the poison control center--and countless young lives.

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