The Maryland Poison Center (MPC) staff is a small but mighty team. People are often shocked to hear that our staff only consists of about 25 people since we are a 24/7 state-wide service. Each person plays an important role in the daily operations and fulfilling the mission of the MPC. Let’s get to know everyone and their roles here.
Dr. Bruce Anderson is our Executive Director. He is a pharmacist by training who completed a clinical toxicology fellowship at the San Diego Poison Center and University of California San Diego Medical Center. After fellowship, Bruce went to the Florida Poison Center in Tampa as assistant director before coming to the MPC in 1993. As executive director, Bruce ensures we have the proper staff, proper tools, and funding necessary to keep the service up and running. In addition to his leadership role at the MPC, he is also a professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Angel Bivens is our Assistant Director of Operations and Public Education. She is also a pharmacist by training and has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. She began her time at the MPC as a Certified Specialist in Poison Information (CSPI). After several years, Angel moved into the public educator role where she developed educational programs and materials to raise awareness of MPC services and the importance of poison safety. As assistant director, she splits her time between public education and poison center operations.
Certified Specialists in Poison Information (CSPI)
The 24/7 telephone service is what we are most known for and is a vital service. The people who answer the phones are pharmacists and nurses who are CSPI’s (pronounced see-spies). These pharmacists and nurses receive special training to manage poisonings and overdoses. It takes three or more months of intense study and training with experienced specialists before new specialists can manage cases independently. After managing more than 2,500 human exposure cases, they take a rigorous national exam to be certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. They must re-take this exam every seven years.
We have 12 CSPI’s whose primary job is to manage the cases that are reported to the MPC. There can be anywhere from one to five CSPI’s on the phones at any given time in the day. One of our YouTube videos shares more information on what a CSPI is.
Lyn Goodrich is our Quality Assurance Specialist in addition to being a CSPI. She reviews cases at the MPC to ensure our medical records are accurate and our cases are managed according to MPC clinical guidelines. She was one of our original nurse CSPI’s at the MPC. After 37 years of service, she will be retiring at the end of February.
You can get to know our poison experts, including how they got to the MPC and what they enjoy doing in their free time, by visiting our archive of the Meet Our Experts blog series.
Dr. Joshua King is our Medical Director. He is fellowship trained and board certified in internal medicine, nephrology, and medical toxicology. Josh completed his toxicology fellowship at the Blue Ridge Poison Center and University of Virginia Hospital. It is Josh’s responsibility to develop guidelines that are used in managing poisoning and overdose cases. He also serves as the primary medical consultant for the poison specialists. Finally, Dr. King oversees the teaching of various health care professional learners who visit the MPC to learn more about toxicology and treating poisonings and overdoses.
Dr. James Leonard is our Clinical Toxicologist. He is a pharmacist by training and is board certified in clinical toxicology. Prior to joining our team full-time, he was one of our previous toxicology fellows! In addition to being a consultant for the poison specialists, Jimmy also assists with guideline development, teaching, and research.
Dr. Wendy Klein-Schwartz is a pharmacist by training and Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Wendy has been with the MPC almost from the beginning, starting at the MPC in 1977. In addition to being a professor of pharmacy practice, Wendy also held the positions of assistant director and director of the MPC. She earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and has countless toxicology research publications. She is known nationally for her expertise in the field. Wendy has dedicated 45 years of service to the Maryland Poison Center and University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She continues to teach and research with other MPC staff, fellows, and students.
Clinical Toxicology Fellows
The MPC offers a two-year clinical toxicology fellowship. Through this program, fellows receive in-depth learning and experience in clinical toxicology. This fellowship program has taken place since 1983. Many of our former fellows have gone on to poison center and toxicology positions in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, the CDC, and the US Army.
Healthcare Professional Educators
Eric Schuetz has been with the MPC since 1991. He is a pharmacist by training and began working here as a CSPI. In 2018, he took over the Healthcare Professional Educator role but continues to be a CSPI as needed. In his role as the health care professional educator, Eric leads trainings and in-services at hospitals and nursing schools, and presents to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and medical students on a variety of toxicology topics. Eric also trains EMS providers all over the state.
Public Education and Communications
Emily Paterson is the Public Education and Communication Specialist. She has a public health background and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®). Emily is responsible for educating the 4.1 million people in the MPC’s service area on who the MPC is and what we do. She travels around the state presenting about the MPC and preventing poisonings to many coalitions and community partners. In addition, she creates content and manages communications for the website, blog, newsletters, and social media pages to teach poison prevention and safety.
Pedro Gamez is our IT Specialist and has been with us since 2013. He ensures all the telephones, computers, and other technology at the MPC run smoothly. He has an especially important role at the MPC so that our specialists can connect with callers 24/7 to manage cases. Pedro was awarded the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB)’s employee of the month in July 2017 after seamlessly transitioning our phone systems during an office renovation.
We have two office administrators- Nicole Dorsey and Patricia Campbell. They manage our office finances, and staff and office day-to-day needs. In addition, they support our public education efforts. Nicole has worked at the MPC since 2004, starting as a high school student in the Youth Works program. She has since risen to her current role of Program Management Specialist, overseeing all business operations of the center. Patricia joined us in 2019. One of their main duties is managing and mailing our public education materials. You can order educational materials for your home by requesting a Poison Safety Packet, or for your organization using our online store.
In a future blog, we will explore the other activities that take place at the MPC in addition to our telephone service. As always, our experts are available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222. You can always find up-to-date information on our website and social media pages.