According to GivingTuesday.org, since 2012 the Tuesday following Thanksgiving has been known as #GivingTuesday, a day that “harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities.” This year, #GivingTuesday falls on November 29.

The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center (NMPDIC) provides treatment to people of all ages who have been exposed to poisons, at no cost to the public or healthcare system. The poison center also plays a critical role in the public health system. Because of our near real-time National Poison Data System, NMPDIC is able to quickly detect and respond to public health emergencies. Past collaborations include helping the New Mexico Department of Health with the management of the Swine Flu and the Animas River spill, along with other local emergencies. In addition to providing direct patient health care services, the NMPDIC also delivers educational outreach to prevent poison emergencies.

NMPDIC services save millions of dollars in health care costs every year. During the last fiscal year the center was able to save $13 million in health care costs by safely managing poisonings on site. An additional $36.6 million was saved by providing bedside consults to hospitalized patients, adding up to a total cost savings of $49.6 million.

The NMPDIC is primarily funded by the state; other funding sources include federal funds and private donations. Unfortunately, state and federal budget cuts continue to threaten the stability of the NMPDIC. As a program of the University of New Mexico’s College of Pharmacy, the NMPDIC faces a 5-7 percent cut in state funding for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. A 7 percent cut in funding means a loss of $210,000 for the NMPDIC. The NMPDIC also relies on the Tobacco Settlement Fund, the future availability of which is in question.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers launched a #PayItForward theme for #GivingTuesday 2016 on behalf of the 55 poison centers that make up the membership. This theme encourages those who have used the Poison Help Hotline or poison control services to participate in #GivingTuesday by donating to the NMPDIC and helping others who need poison help. Donate at http://nmpoisoncenter.unm.edu/donation_page.html.