As reported by the Journal Inquirer, June 19, 2007.

Toxicology Department at Windham Hospital Provides Emergency Treatment Close to Home

By Jon Terbush

Two certified medical toxicologists have had a major role in turning Windham Hospital into one of only a small number of institutions in the state to offer highly specialized toxicology treatment.

The recently formed toxicology department at the hospital is administered by board-certified toxicologists Dr. Danyal Ibrahim and Dr. Alberto Perez.

The field is essentially a sub-specialty of emergency medicine. After becoming certified emergency physicians, Perez and Ibrahim had to undergo more training to become certified medical toxicologists.

The doctors said that while other emergency physicians can treat cases of poisoning, the extra training they received better prepared them to treat such cases.

"I don't expect my colleagues to have the same kind of training," Perez says. "It's always good to have the guy who knows more treating you."

Ibrahim agreed that the additional training had better prepared him to deal with cases of poisoning.

"The poisoned patient is no different than patients who come in here for a heart problem. They're more likely to get better if the doctor seeing them has more expertise," Ibrahim says. "The poisoned patient really needs someone specialized looking after them," he added.

The toxicology team serves both children and adults, and can deal with intentional or unintentional poisonings. The toxicologists can treat a wide spectrum of cases, including acute poisonings, snakebites, adverse drug reactions, and exposure to hazardous materials.

But the toxicologists said the most common cases they deal with involve overdoses of pain relievers, whether accidental or intentional.

The doctors are networked directly to the University of Connecticut Health Center's Poison Control Center in Farmington, and at least one of them is on call at all times. If a person who lives in this area calls poison control to report a case of poisoning, the center can direct the caller to Windham Hospital for specialized treatment.

Windham Hospital averages one poisoning case a day, a number the doctors say necessitates their services.

"In a community hospital like this, that's a busy service," Ibrahim explains. "That makes it worthwhile for us to be here. And more importantly, it makes it worthwhile for the patients."

Without their services, patients could be transferred to other hospitals for treatment by certified toxicologists, such as Hartford Hospital.

Ibrahim and Perez said the toxicology service at Windham Hospital allows patients to get emergency treatment without being sent a long distance to another hospital.

"We help keep patients close to home," Ibrahim says.

The doctors also noted that because of the community nature of the hospital, they are able to interact with patients after the initial treatment. Even after patients are treated in the emergency room, the toxicologists check on them throughout their hospital stay.

The toxicology team said they were pleased with the service so far, even though it is still relatively new.

"We're doing this because we're interested in it and because we truly want our patients to get well and better," Perez says.