The Intermountain Regional Poison Control Center at the University of Utah Hospital has changed its toll-free telephone number for calls initiated outside of Salt Lake City.

Intermountain residents should now call 1 (800) 456-7707 to receive immediate advice on how to help a poisoning victim. Salt Lakers should dial 581-2151 or use the 911 emergency number and ask for the Poison Control Center.The telephone number change has enabled the center to cut its long-distance telephone costs in half.

"The center is funded by the Utah State Health Department and is housed in space donated by University Hospital. As is the case with many state agencies, we are dealing with a shrinking budget. This will help us be much more efficient," said Dr. Joseph Veltri, associate professor of pharmacy.

Veltri said the center recently upgraded its computer, allowing the staff to call up in a matter of seconds information about hundreds of drugs and poisons. The center handles more than 35,000 poisoning calls each year. Nearly 90 percent of the center's patients can be treated successfully at home, saving some $300,000 in health-care costs.