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New partnership in CNY aims to train families on how to reduce the risk of a poisoning happening in the home

Woman holding pills in hand

FOR RELEASE: October 14, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y. –  Each year, 87% of visits to emergency departments for children five and under involve adult medications. Of those, 38% involve a grandparent’s medication. In an effort to help combat this problem, the Upstate New York Poison Center sought and received grant funding to place locking medicine boxes in the hands of the caregivers of this most vulnerable population.

‘Project Medication Lock-UP’ is a partnership funded by Nascentia Health’s VNA Foundation of Central New York and Kinney Drugs, Inc. In an effort to reduce poisonings, the project will supply 1,000 locking medicine boxes for two projects geared towards parents and grandparents in homes with children.

“Most often children get into medications because it is left within easy reach. While our poison specialists are available 24/7 to provide help for callers, we would much rather prevent the poisoning from happening in the first place,” says Gail Banach, Upstate New York Poison Center public education and communications director, “This program will teach parents and grandparents to keep their children safe by locking medications and keeping them up, away, and out of sight of young children.”

Nascentia Health offers home-based medical and clinical services to patients of all ages, including the high-risk populations targeted in ‘Project Medication Lock-UP’ including low socioeconomic families, children under five and senior citizens.

Picture of a medication lock boxStarting this week, 35 Nascentia Health staff members will be trained to deliver the poison safety program to families in Onondaga, Cayuga, Oswego and Oneida counties and provide 500 locking medicine boxes.



The Nascentia Health staff will:

  • Teach an in-home poison safety program to parents and grandparents over the course of four weeks
  • Provide a packet of poison safety information with a brochure on safe medicine use, a tip card on safe storage of medicine, a safety checklist to engage children and directives for online materials
  • Reinforce teaching strategies weekly to be sure the safety rules they learned are understood and being used in the home
  • Distribute one medication lock box to each family (as pictured) and demonstrate the proper use of the lock box for safe storage

“During the month of October, Nascentia Health and the Upstate New York Poison Center are excited to be working together to provide families throughout Central New York with critical poison education,” says Maria Giannino, associate director of patient services at Nascentia Health, “The collaborative initiative is a natural fit between Nascentia Health and the Upstate New York Poison Center as both organizations have a strong commitment to keeping patients and their families safe within the comforts of their own home.”

To measure success following the educational efforts, program evaluations will test knowledge of poison safety rules, measure behavior change related to the information taught and assess how well parents and grandparents have followed the rules for proper use of the medication boxes. During post-instruction, the staff will be asked to complete an online survey to assess their knowledge, behavior and level of satisfaction with the program to improve its future.

In the coming months, the Upstate New York Poison Center will initiate a similar program with the McMahon Ryan Advocacy Center distributing an additional 500 locking medicine boxes to families with young children.

In the case of a poisoning or for information purposes, call the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Each year our center manages more than 50,000 calls from health care providers, 911 operators, hospitals, industry, schools, and the general public in our 54-county service area.

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About Upstate New York Poison Center

Housed inside Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, the Upstate New York Poison Center is dedicated to reducing the number, cost and severity of poisonings within its designated 54-county service area as mandated by New York State Law. The Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to both health professionals and the general public at 1-800-222-1222.

About Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, is the only academic medical center in Central New York. It is also the region's largest employer with 9,460 employees. Affiliated with the State University of New York, Upstate's mission is to improve the health of the community through education, biomedical research and health care.