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Operation Medicine Care keeps outdated drugs from contaminating water

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Robin Perry said some people got downright emotional Saturday as they stopped at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center to get rid of outdated medicines.
“Lots of them were teary-eyed,” said Perry, community services director for Home Instead Senior Care. “They’d had a spouse who’d died and their old medicines had been sitting on a shelf for years. It was like giving away a part of their loved one.”
Operation Medicine Care was held at Rufty-Holmes as a means of allowing individuals the opportunity to get rid of outdated and unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. The event was sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care, which includes an office in Salisbury.
Officers from the Salisbury Police Department assisted with the event, collecting the medications in boxes and taking them to the landfill to be burned. The medicines were emptied from their bottles, those containers to be sterilized and reused at community care free clinics.
Before the four-hour event was through, 88 motorists (the event was drive-through) dropped off a total of 69 pounds of pills, 19 boxes of needles and three large garbage bags of medicine bottles for recycling.
Better still, organizers said, the event helped to properly dispose of outdated medications that have the potential to be dangerous. As Perry noted, such medicines aren’t supposed to be flushed down toilets or washed down drains because of the potential to contaminate groundwater supplies.
The medications also have the potential to hurt toddlers who inadvertently stumble into their grandparents’ bathroom cabinets and uncover medicines that were long-since forgotten.
“This get them out of hands and out of homes,” said Sid Jay, the owner of Jaycare Corp., a part of Home Instead. “Some seniors have medicines in their houses for years for God knows why. Some of these we collected today have been around since the ’50s.”
He noted that because so many people opt to dump their unused medicines down the drain, there are trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in virtually all drinking water.
The medicines collected ran the gamut, from oxycontin to morphine pills, from valium to morphine patches. Some people even brought in outdated medicines that were intended for their pets.
One bystander took a gander at the box of pills that grew each time the contents of another bottle were dumped therein, and marveled aloud at the price tag of all those medicines were someone buying them at a drugstore.
“We’ve had some dangerous stuff, too,” said Rick Eldridge, executive director of Rufty-Holmes who was on hand for Saturday’s event. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the turnout here today.”

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