SCC: Operation Medicine Chest

Published on: November 29, 2018

Get rid of drugs the right way at

Operation Medicine Chest

By LOIS KINDLE

LOIS KINDLE FILE PHOTOS
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Community Resource Deputy Jeff Merry said turning in expired, unwanted or unused medications is easy, as shown here. Everything is accepted as is, no questions asked.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Home Instead Senior Care Brandon is partnering once again to collect your old prescription and over-the-counter meds. Simply turn them in during Operation Medicine Chest from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 7 at Sun City Center Community Hall, 1910 S. Pebble Beach Blvd., and from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the lobby at Freedom Plaza, 1010 American Eagle Blvd., SCC.

Hosted by the two organizations, the free event enables residents to conveniently and confidentially dispose of unused, unwanted or outdated medications in a safe manner, said HCSO Community Resource Deputy Jeff Merry.

“We host this event to keep people from throwing drugs in the trash or dumping them down a toilet or drain, where they end up in our waterways,” he said. “Collecting and destroying them in the right way helps the environment and is a good community service.”

There are more reasons.

“Home Instead Senior Care got involved because we saw many seniors were making medication errors, mixing up their drugs and overdosing,” said Kristi Campbell, franchise owner of the company’s Brandon location. “Additionally, lots of medications were being stolen from their medicine chests by subcontractors, service providers, friends and family members, especially teens looking for opioids. By collecting these drugs before they fall into the wrong hands, we’re helping prevent drug abuse and misuse.”

Sheriff’s office personnel will accept both solid and liquid medications, sharps (needles), over-the-counter drugs, pet medications…basically whatever residents need to get rid of,” she said. “Everyone is welcome to participate.” 

Folks generally drop off their meds in boxes or grocery bags; some even hand over loose pills in a storage bag. At Community Hall, they don’t even need to get out of their cars or golf carts. 

Just under 1,100 pounds were turned in by Sun City Center residents during the two Operation Medicine Chest collections last year. This year’s fall collection will take place Dec. 7 at Community Hall and Freedom Plaza.

Deputies closely monitor the entire process.

“We accept everything as is; we don’t ask questions,” Merry said. “There’s no need to empty containers or remove labels. Once we take the drugs into custody, they’re sealed, labeled and taken for secure storage at our District II office in Tampa.”

Ultimately, they are incinerated in a 3,000-degree oven, the same one used by the sheriff’s office to destroy illegal drugs and confiscated guns.

Operation Medicine Chest has taken place every spring and fall since 2006. Last year, almost 1,100 pounds of medications were collected in Sun City Center alone. Other collections are also held throughout the county.

Small amounts of pills or capsules may be dropped off any time at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Dist. IV Command office, 508 33rd St. S.E., Ruskin. Liquids and sharps are prohibited there.

For more information, call 813-629-8869 or email kcampbell@aaxiomhealthservices.com or jmerry@hcso.tampa.fl.us.

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