Local pharmacy's founder integral in promotion of Poison Prevention Week

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Lee Schlitt goes over the Poison Prevention Week timeline inside the Broadway Prescription Shop in Cape Girardeau. (LAURA SIMON)

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week. The goal: educate consumers on steps to prevent accidental poisonings and provide tips for promoting community involvement in poison prevention.

The Poison Prevention Council, a partnership of public and private entities, works with poison control centers nationwide to raise awareness about accidental poisonings. The council was organized to coordinate the national event after an act of Congress was signed into law Sept. 16, 1961, by President John F. Kennedy.

This photo shows Homer George on “The Arthur Godfrey Show” as he discussed Poison Prevention Week.

Broadway Prescription Shop in Cape Girardeau is working with the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis to coordinate local awareness. They honored the week by promoting awareness at senior centers and providing Mr. Yuk stickers -- which designate hazardous materials -- and lesson plans for public schools.

"We really care about the safety of families," said Lee Schlitt, owner of Broadway Prescription Shop.

There's also another reason Schlitt said he wanted to take an active role in the national event.

"The efforts of Broadway Prescription Shop founder Homer George helped pass the legislation that created Poison Prevention Week 50 years ago," Schlitt said.

The George family owned and operated Broadway Prescription Shop from 1932 until 2007. In addition to being the founder of the pharmacy, Homer George was passionate about increasing awareness of poison prevention in the community. His efforts to create Poison Prevention Week started in Cape Girardeau in 1958. Missouri then became the first state in the country to designate Poison Prevention Week thanks to his efforts.

George continued to push his initiative until a Missouri congressman introduced the idea before Congress. Public Law 87-319 authorized the president to designate the third week in March as Poison Prevention Week.

There are more than 2 million poisonings reported annually to the 57 U.S. poison control centers, according to Poison Prevention Council's website. Of these, more than 90 percent occur in the home. Most of the nonfatal incidents involve children 6 years of age or younger.

Poison Prevention help sticker.

Carla Crump, a registered nurse and manager of emergency services at Saint Francis Medical Center, said that the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon is a wonderful resource. Anyone can call the hotline and talk to a representative who can provide information on what should be done if a poisoning takes place.

The poison control centers are also used as resources when individuals are brought into emergency departments who could have been harmed by household chemicals, medications and other forms of poisoning.

"They share with us what medical care is recommended and fax us protocols for the physicians to follow. Not only do they share information, but they follow up on every incident they are contacted about," Crump said.

Poison control sends poison alerts to health care facilities to help educate the staff. It also gives free poison control stickers to the public to raise awareness, among other efforts.

To learn more about the Poison Prevention Council, go to www.poisonprevention.org. If you think someone has been exposed to medicinal or household chemical poisoning, call 1-800-222-1222.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: