By LOIS KINDLE
When old or unused prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are improperly flushed down the toilet or thrown into the trash, they contaminate our public water supply and county landfill.
Plus they pose a potential danger when they’re mixed up with your current meds.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, South Bay Hospital and Home Instead Senior Care have joined forces to present Operation Medicine Chest, a free event aimed at giving folks an easy way to safely discard any old, unwanted or unused drugs and keep themselves out of harm’s way.
It will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 4 at Community Hall, 1910 Pebble Beach Blvd. S. Residents of Sun City Center and surrounding communities are invited to attend.
Sun City Center Community Resource Deputy Jeff Merry and Community Service Aide Michelle Mortimer will be on site to properly collect any solid or liquid prescription meds for both people or pets, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and sharps (needles). All will be accepted, as is, no questions asked, and then boxed and sealed so they can be taken into custody and safely destroyed through incineration. The drugs never leave the HCSO chain of custody.
“Just walk up or drive by and hand them over in a bag or a box,” said Merry. “There’s no need to remove labels or empty the bottles or containers.”
Operation Medicine Cabinet started in 2006 when the sheriff’s office and Home Instead Senior Care partnered to reduce the high number of overdoses resulting in hospitalization and to help keep prescription drugs from being taken surreptitiously by family members, friends or laborers. South Bay Hospital joined the effort last April and is now the host site for Operation Medicine Chest’s spring collections.
“Medication errors are one of the top three reasons for preventable hospitalizations,” said Kristi Campbell, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Brandon. So if we can get people’s medicine cabinets cleared of expired drugs and those they no longer use, we can help eliminate potential tragedies. It’s really a simple fix.”
On average, Sun City Center area residents turn in 1,000 pounds of these kinds of drugs each year, Merry said. In 2018, the total was 1,200, and April’s collection netted more than 670 pounds.
South County residents are always welcome to drop off small amounts of pills or capsules at the Dist. 4 command office, 508 33rd St. SE, Ruskin. Liquids and sharps are prohibited there.
Merry will also be conducting a series of free public presentations in Sun City Center in December, concerning the safe operation of vehicles and golf carts. The dates, times and places are as follows:
• Tuesday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. in the Caper Room at the Atrium, 945 N. Course Lane;
• Tuesday, Dec. 10, 1 p.m. in the Ripple Room at the Kings Point Clubhouse, 1900 Clubhouse Drive;
• Tuesday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m. in the Freedom Auditorium at Freedom Plaza, 1010 American Eagle Blvd.
“I will be talking about how cars and golf carts need to safely interact in our community, and how, regardless of where we learned to drive, we all need to follow the rules of the road in Florida,” Merry said.
For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813-242-5515.