Managing Director Named at Poison and Drug Information Center

September 21, 2000

John Benitez, M.D., M.P.H., assumed his duties as new managing director and associate medical director of the Finger Lakes Regional Poison and Drug Control Center this month.

He was formerly medical director at the Pittsburgh Poison Center, interim director of the Toxicology Treatment Program's inpatient and outpatient toxicology service, and a physician in the emergency department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Benitez is board-certified in medical toxicology, occupational medicine, and emergency medicine. He brings extensive experience in treating people who've been poisoned, as well as considerable experience in poison-center management. Under his watch, the Center will continue to dispense potentially life-saving information to parents, but will also emphasize prevention. Consultation to area primary care and specialty physicians is also provided.

"We'll always be here answering the calls and seeing patients after something happens, but we're planning to do more on the education side in the hopes of preventing people from needing our service," Benitez says.

For starters, Benitez offers parents the following reminders:

  • Clean the medicine cabinet from time to time, disposing of outdated medicine by flushing it down the toilet and rinsing the container before throwing it out.
  • Keep household chemicals and medicines locked up and out of children's reach.
  • Store all medicines and household products in original containers, away from food.
  • Never call medicine "candy," and avoid taking your medicine in front of children. They love to imitate adults.
  • Never let children out of sight when these products are in use - even for a moment.

The Finger Lakes Regional Poison and Drug Information Center serves Monroe, Ontario, Livingston, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates, Schuyler and Chemung counties. It is based at the University of Rochester's Children's Hospital at Strong.

To speak with a specialist at the Center, call 1-800-333-0542. In Rochester, call 275-3232, or reach the TTY line at 273-3854. The Center is staffe d by specialists in poison and drug information (registered nurses and pharmacists) who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and covered by physician specialists in medical toxicology. The service is confidential and free.

Benitez lives in Honeoye Falls with his wife, Linda Allison, who is also a physician.

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