FROM our journalistic neighbors at the (Hagerstown)...


FROM our journalistic neighbors at the (Hagerstown) Daily Mail comes this editorial, which appeared May 15:

"For a generation, Maryland youngsters have been taught that household materials marked with green 'Mr. Yuk' stickers are poisonous, and their parents have been assured that if the worst did happen, there was a poison center to provide immediate access to expert information. Now, according to the center's director, the center is threatened because of a lack of funding.

"It's not a shortage of state dollars that's jeopardizing the center, according to Dr. Bruce Anderson, its director, but a dearth of grants and corporate gifts. Anderson says that if the center doesn't receive additional funding in the next few weeks, it will have to restrict its services to Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

"Officials at some hospitals are saying that might not have an adverse effect on local health, but with the number of poisonous materials on the market, it makes sense to have a central location where antidotes and countermeasures are immediately available. Forcing local hospitals to develop the same expertise would be a wasteful duplication of effort.

"We don't doubt that there is a funding shortage at the center, but we do question why this matter didn't come to the attention of the 1995 General Assembly. Would lawmakers really refuse funding for this service, knowing that one horror story about a child whose parents didn't get help would be political poison for them?

"We urge state officials to look into additional funding sources, such as the state's insurance companies. Surely it's in insurers' financial interest to keep little claims from turning into big ones, and to prevent little children from becoming statistics on the dark side of the ledger."

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