April 30 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and both the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming are participating with drug take back programs on that day.
The Kentwood Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration will be accepting medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Kentwood Police Department, 4742 Walma Ave. SE. For specific questions on the Kentwood program, call 656-6571.
The City of Wyoming has once again teamed up with Metro Health Hospital with its program also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday, April 30, in the main lobby of Metro Health Hospital, 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW. A pharmacist will be available to answer questions. Also at the Metro Health site, those with mercury thermometers can exchange those items for a new digital thermometer.
Drug take back programs like the ones in Kentwood and Wyoming are designed to help with the environment in that it increases awareness about placing medications in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, a practice that is now strongly discouraged as it can create safety and health hazards.
“The main thing for us is to keep it out of our water system,” said Wyoming’s Environmental Services Supervisor Dave Oostindie. “If it gets in, it ends up going into the Grand River which feeds into Lake Michigan which is where we pull our water supply from and eventually return back to the residents.”
Also, medications that are forgotten in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 44 people a day die from drug overdoses. That number has tripled since 2000. A majority of abused prescription drugs, such as opioid pain relievers found in homes, are obtained from family and friends with Oostindie noting often the meds are stolen right out of people’s medical cabinets.
Residents from both cities are encouraged to bring in unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter medications to their city’s respective drop-off site. Both sites are free and anonymous with no questions asked.
Kentwood officials noted that every year they have a number of people bring items that are not accepted such as needles and medical equipment. You can can check with specific organizations such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, but many groups pointed to the Kent County Health Department as a good place to start for information on disposal of medical equipment and supplies. Recyclekent.org offers a number of resources on recycling for a variety of materials including hazardous material and medical equipment and supplies.
Needles: The recyclekent.org website recently added a program called Safe Sharps, where residents can sign up at the Kent County Health Department. For more information, visit recyclekent.org/material/sharps/. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) also has a list places to take needles. Click here for the list.
Medical equipment: Recyclekent.org has a list of places that either recycle or dispose of the equipment or you can donate medical equipment to them. For a complete list, click here. One place that does take medical equipment is Spring Lake’s International Aid. For more about that organization, visit internationalaid.org.
Eye glasses: The Grand Rapids Lions Club has several locations where you can drop off old eyeglasses. For a complete list, click here.
There is also the West Michigan Take Back Meds program. a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities and government agencies to provide safe, convenient medicine disposal.
Medications collected in West Michigan are brought to Kent Countys Waste to Energy Facility, where the items are incinerated. Metro Health and the City of Wyoming partner twice a year to provide this service. Last fall’s Wyoming event brought in 169 pounds of medication and 18 thermometers.
The City of Wyoming also offers a prescription drug drop-off service 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at its Department of Public Safety, 2300 DeHoop Ave. SW.