NMC Commentary

Is NMC Serving As A Medication Disposal Station?

Yes we are!  I’m excited that NMC has unveiled a new service for the community – a  drug take-back kiosk installed in the lobby of the main hospital entrance. Safe disposal of medications is incredibly important to our community and NMC is pleased to be a leader in assisting the public with this.

The kiosk features a one-way drop mechanism with a locking door so that medications can be security dropped off.  It is located in the lobby for easy access and also for safety reasons.  Being in the view of our Switchboard Operator allows for proper monitoring of this area.   Security is also visible in this area with a designated office.

The kiosk is intended for over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as Schedules II, III, IV and V controlled substances.  This includes prescription medications such as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and methadone.  The box will be regularly maintained by NMC’s Pharmacy staff with assistance from our security team. Dropped off medications are removed from the box following established procedures, and then security transported for disposal.

This is about meeting community need.   NMC is committed to doing our part to prevent the diversion of left-over medications because we know that drug diversion is a problem in our community. In fact, Mental Health and Substance Abuse was the number one top priority identified in the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment. This kiosk is a small but very visible sign of our commitment to addressing this issue.

NMC earned a grant to help us research and plan for the kiosk.  We worked closely with the Vermont Department of Health to ensure that we approached the project in a thorough and thoughtful manner. Our thanks go out to Vermont Department of Health (VDH) District Director Judy Ashley and Mary Pickener a consultant for the State of Vermont who lent their expertise and assistance. Thank you also to our Facilities and Pharmacy teams for making this idea a reality.

Why is this important?  Over-the-counter and prescription medications play a key role in our health an in recovery from illness and injury.  However, when misused, these same medications can be dangerous and can create addiction.  It is common that at the end of our need for a medication there is some amount left over.  If those unused medications sit unattended in a home medicine cabinet, there is risk that they may be misused or shared by family or friends and cause serious problems.  Plus, simply throwing medications away or flushing them down the sewer raises health concerns as well. Therefore, as the VDH website says, “By ensuring the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs, you can help make sure drugs don’t get into the wrong hands, or pollute our waterways and wildlife.”

VHD’s has an informative section on their website regarding Vermont’s prescription drug take back system at http://www.healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/services/prescription-drug-disposal  At that site, you will find other sites where medications can be safely disposed of, including the St. Albans Police Station, the Swanton Police Station, and the Grand Isle County Sherriffs’ Department here in our area. (NMC’s kiosk will soon appear on their map.)  Our sincere thanks go out to our partners in law enforcement for also being leaders in this important effort to properly dispose of “Vermont’s most dangerous leftovers.”  Our hope is that adding NMC to this list will give local residents who are familiar with our facility and comfortable coming to our campus an easy and welcoming option for the proper disposal of their left over medications.

The drug take-back kiosk adjacent to NMC’s lobby at our Main Entrance (across from the Switchboard) is now available for use, and I know that it will be a welcome resource for the community. Please, go through your cupboards, nightstands, and medicine cabinets and gather up any leftover or unneeded medications or prescriptions and stop by an official medication take-back location and dispose of them properly.  Doing so is powerful step you can take in our efforts to create a healthier tomorrow in our community.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer