Montcalm County Coalition makes disposing meds easy

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 4:04 pm on Friday, September 23, 2011

Sheridan Community Hospital Director of Pharmacy Mary Thomas mediates a Medication Disposal Coalition of Montcalm County meeting while Spectrum Health United Hospital Director of Pharmacy Services Heather Christensen takes notes.

Properly disposing unwanted medication can be tricky.
The newly named Medication Disposal Coalition of Montcalm County (MDCMC) wants to make the effort easier.
The MDCMC was created in January. Members met Wednesday at Sheridan Community Hospital to discuss goals and create a new mission statement: “To provide education and events for proper disposal of medications in an effort to protect our environment, prevent childhood poisonings and reduce substance abuse.”
The MDCMC will host a countywide free medication disposal from 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at Carson Apothecary Shoppe in Carson City, Mid-Michigan District Health Department in Stanton, Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview and Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville.
Howard City Police Chief Steve DeWitt will also host a free medication drop-off day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Howard City Police Department as part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Accepted items include prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, creams, ointments and inhalers. Sharps are not accepted. People may black out the name on their prescription bottles or request the bottles back to maintain their privacy.
Sheridan Community Hospital Director of Pharmacy Mary Thomas is one of the 16 members of the MDCMC and she is passionate about her calling.
“People steal drugs from medicine cabinets and teenage drug abuse often starts by experimenting with drugs from the medicine cabinet,” Thomas said. “Teenagers have ‘punch bowl parties’ now where everyone brings a bottle of prescription drugs and dumps it in the bowl, then starts popping pills. It’s comparable to ‘trash can’ alcohol parties. The difference is, prescription meds can kill our children.”
Thomas offers a medication disposal service at Sheridan Community Hospital on a daily basis, but the law prevents her from accepting narcotics. Local law enforcement agencies are involved in the countywide drop-off day, meaning people can turn in narcotics and illegal drugs without the fear of being prosecuted.
“We may never be able to measure the outcomes in terms of reduced substance abuse, related crime and reduced environmental hazards, but I’m confident that every pound of pills we take back will have positive effects in all three areas,” said Greenville Assistant City Manager Cameron Van Wyngarden, a member of the MDCMC.
For more information, call Thomas at (989) 291-3269 ext. 226 or visit the MDCMC’s newly created Facebook page.

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