Mitchell County residents looking for a safe and anonymous way to properly dispose of unused medications now have the opportunity to do so, thanks to the cooperative efforts of the Mitchell County Sheriff's Department and Mitchell County Regional Health Center.
Approximately three years ago, then-deputy Greg Beaver initiated a drug return program on Earth Day as a way of preventing drugs from being improperly flushed or otherwise disposed of in an unsafe manner.
During a meeting, last year, of the Mitchell County Substance Abuse Coalition, committee members suggested purchasing a medication drug collection unit which would allow residents to return medications any time day or night, not just one time a year.
However, funding and a location of the unit were two major obstacles facing the coalition.
That's when Jay Pedelty, prevention specialist with Prairie Ridge Treatment Center and coalition member, decided to approach Kevin Runolfson, new CEO at MCRHC, about the possibility of the hospital purchasing the unit.
He then approached newly elected sheriff Greg Beaver about the possibility of locating the unit at the sheriff's department.
"Many of us can admit to not taking all of our prescribed medications," said Beaver. "It gets left in the medicine cabinet and then has the potential to find its way into the hands of our youth.
"Our goal, as a department, is to provide a safe and easy way for individuals to properly dispose of their unwanted medications while keeping our youth safe."
Kara Naig, Director of Public Relations at MCRHC, said, "Mitchell County Regional Health Center is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve and partnering with the sheriff's department in the medication return program is just one way we meet that commitment."
Beaver said that medications could now be dropped off any time at the sheriff's department- previously they could only be given to an on-duty deputy.
"All people need to do is bring in their unused, unwanted or expired house medicines and prescription medications in their original containers to the lobby 24-hours a day, seven days a week," said Beaver. "However, we still will not be taking sharps needles."
He also mentioned that if someone had medication they wished to dispose of but it wasn't in its original container, to contact the sheriff's department and arrange for a pick-up.
"Each year, MCRHC supports a variety of activities and funding for projects that simply benefit our communities," said Naig, "while aligning with the mission, vision and values of the health center.
"The purchase of the medication return box was a natural fit for MCRHC."