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Iredell Health System Installs Drop Box for Prescription Drug Disposal

Community news | Thursday, December 27, 2018

Iredell Memorial Hospital has installed a narcotics drop box in the entryway of its emergency room to provide a safe, legal, and eco-friendly way to dispose of unneeded prescription drugs and reduce drug addiction in the community.

The drop box resembles a mailbox and enables individuals to deposit unused, unwanted, or outdated prescription drugs. It is available for deposits 24 hours a day, and all deposits are anonymous.

Items accepted in the drop box include prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, pet medications, vitamins & supplements, medicated ointments, lotions, creams & oils, liquid medications in leak-proof containers, homeopathic remedies, and suppositories. If disposing of liquids, ensure the lid is secure.

Items not accepted in the drop box include thermometers, needles, syringes, bloody or infected waste, intravenous therapy (IV) bags, personal care products, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, and full inhalers.

“We applaud and thank Iredell Memorial Hospital for its participation in this very important effort to get unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines off the street,” said Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh. “This is a great idea to locate a drop-off in the hospital emergency room, and I am sure it will make a difference. I am proud of the partnerships our Police Department has created through the drug take-back program and hope our citizens will take advantage of the drop-off locations. It is the safest way to keep drugs out of our young people’s hands.”

Many prescription drug abusers obtain the medicines from cabinets of family and friends. By helping prevent medication from falling into the wrong hands, the drop box enables community members to protect their loved ones and reduce the number of cases of theft, overdose, and death from drug misuse and abuse.

Crime Prevention Officer Chan Austin of the Statesville Police Department manages the drop box, empties its container bi-weekly, and keeps a running total of the medication weight collected. The drugs are taken to Iredell County Animal Services and incinerated.

“The Statesville Police Department strives to reduce both accidental and illegal use of prescription drugs in our community,” said Statesville Police Chief David Onley. “In order to continue with these efforts, it is beneficial to receive the support of partners within our jurisdiction. Iredell Health System and the Statesville Police Department have partnered on several occasions to improve the quality of life for citizens in our community, and this drop box is another example of those efforts. We encourage residents to drop off expired and unused medications at this drop box anytime. I want to thank Iredell Health System for continuing to support these efforts in the City of Statesville.”

The drop box and its ease of availability will reduce the amount of improper disposing of prescription drugs which can lead to illegal drug sale or harm the environment.
Similar drop boxes are located at the Statesville Police Department, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, Troutman Town Hall, Mooresville Police Department, and Cannon Pharmacy in Mooresville.

Left with unused drugs from a doctor’s prescription or after the loss of a family member, community members have found themselves unsure of what to do with the extra. The drop box provides them with a solution to conveniently dispose of leftover medicine, enhancing public safety and preventing illegal drug use before it begins.

One in six North Carolina teenagers report having taken a prescription drug without a prescription, making it the number one substance of abuse of the state’s 12 to 17 year olds. Parents should store prescription drugs in a locked box to avoid becoming accidental dealers to their children.

Storing leftover prescription drugs increases the risk of theft. Medications should never be shared because a drug that provides health benefits for one person can harm or kill another.

Steadfast in its focus on improving population health, the Health System joins the Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell’s community-based coalition of organizations and individuals addressing substance misuse and improving the quality of life in the community.

“Iredell Memorial Hospital has been a strong partner with the Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell (DACI) for several years,” said Sandy Tabor-Gray, chairwoman of the DACI. “By installing a medication disposal drop box at their hospital they continue to show their willingness to go to great lengths in helping address the opioid epidemic in our county. Disposing of unused or expired prescription medications in a drop box is a way for everyone to participate in the efforts of addressing the abuse and misuse of prescription medications in our area. Thank you Iredell Memorial Hospital for giving our community members a safe place to dispose of medicines that have the potential to be harmful to our neighbors, friends, and loved ones.”

“Our goal is the same as the DACI: To educate, engage, and empower residents of Iredell County on drugs and alcohol,” said Rhonda Ruppe, director of Iredell Health System’s Emergency Department. “Removing unused or expired medications from your home is good practice. It reduces the risk of accidents and abuse by others.”