Friday, October 8th, 2010
By Shelley Grieshop
'Drug Take Back' deemed a success
March 19 set as next prescription drug drop-off
  Nearly 60 pounds of expired or unwanted prescription drugs were dropped off during a special "Drug Take Back" program held two weeks ago in Celina.
Joyce Jansen, director of nursing at the Mercer County-Celina City Health Department, told board members this week she was pleased with the turnout on Sept. 25.
"Everything went really well," she said, adding 98 vehicles entered the drive-through, drop-off station set up at the former Walmart building.
Local officials collected 48 pounds of pills, 11.2 pounds of liquid medicines and one syringe. The items were turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for destruction and disposal.
The event - sponsored by the health department, the sheriff's office and Gateway Outreach Center of Celina - was the first of its kind locally. It was held in conjunction with the first-ever nationwide "Take-Back Day," headed by the DEA in Washington, D.C.
Nationally, 121 tons of unused medicine was collected for disposal at more than 4,000 drop-off locations.
Grey said he hopes the local event helps fight the drug abuse problem locally.
"We don't want the medicine to find a way into the illicit drug community," he said.
The program allowed citizens to anonymously and at no cost drop off drugs for proper disposal by authorities. The focus was to combat the growing prescription drug abuse problem, which officials say has reached an epidemic level in Ohio.
The state's death rate due to unintentional drug poisoning increased more than 350 percent from 1999 to 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Prescription drug abuse is now the leading cause of injury deaths in Ohio, the CDC reports.
"And it's a huge problem in Mercer County," Jansen told the board.
County Health Commissioner Dr. Philip Masser said the topic was discussed frequently at a recent seminar he attended. Many horror stories were told by officials in southern Ohio where the problem is rampant, he said.
"We were blown away by the severity of the problem," he said.
While heroin appears to be making headlines locally, Masser said prescription drug abuse is causing many more deaths. The problem hits people of all ages, not just teens and young adults, he added.
"This truly is a serious health concern at this time," he said.
Health officials say they often field calls from residents who aren't sure how to get rid of unused drugs. Many flush them down the toilet, which can create an environmental hazard. If thrown in the trash, youngsters or pets can retrieve them and become ill or even die.
Residents who cannot wait until the next scheduled drug drop-off day March 19 are advised to remove the medication from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. This makes the drug less appealing to youngsters and pets. Next put it in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent leakage before discarding in the trash.
In other business this week, health board members:
• Continued a request by county sanitarians to hold a hearing concerning a nuisance order for property at 317 S. Main St., Mendon. The owner, Tonya Thompson, is currently in jail, they said.
• Issued a notice to Jeremy McNerney, 592 N. Eastern Ave., St. Henry, to provide proof of rabies vaccination for his dog before the animal can be removed from quarantine. The dog allegedly bit someone.
If McNerney does not comply, the case will be handed over to the county prosecutor, sanitarian Chris Miller said.
• Were introduced to two new employees: Ashlee Heinl-Botkin, who was recently hired as the Medical Reserve Corps coordinator; and Jan Schoen, a registered nurse, who is assisting the department while another staff member is on leave. Board members also learned that nurse Judy Weaver is resigning to accept a position at the county jail. Weaver was working as a nurse at the jail under a contract between the health department and the sheriff's office.
Health department administrator Dale Palmer said the contract with the sheriff will be amended.
• Learned the health department held a flu clinic Monday for county employees and vaccinated 40. Staff members also gave flu shots to 223 residents during a drive-through clinic at the county fairgrounds on Tuesday.
• Learned Jansen is working with area schools to provide Tdap vaccinations to staff members to avoid the spread of pertussis (whooping cough). A rise in outbreaks of the illness have been reported locally and across the U.S., Jansen added.
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