Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Smyth County Hospital HealthTrust helps law enforcement install drug take-back boxes
MARION, Va. – For the first time in the commonwealth of Virginia, in 2014, more people died from opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents. And by the end of 2016, fatal opioid overdoses were expected to increase by 77 percent, compared to five years ago, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
To help fight the opioid abuse epidemic in Southwest Virginia, Smyth County Community Hospital partnered with community providers and pharmacists to create a pharmacy task force.
“We’re serious about helping our community and battling the drug epidemic sweeping across Southwest Virginia,” said James Tyler, chief executive officer of Smyth County Community Hospital. “We all decided one way to combat this is to join forces with the nationwide effort to make sure folks in our region have ways to properly dispose of unused prescriptions, so they won’t get in the hands of children or someone they aren’t intended for.”
The pharmacy task force approached the Smyth County Hospital HealthTrust – which is the hospital’s nonprofit foundation that raises money for community needs – with the idea to install drug take-back boxes at local law enforcement agencies. The HealthTrust then donated over $5,000 to purchase three boxes.
The drug take-back boxes have been placed inside the Saltville Police Department, Chilhowie Police Department and Smyth County Sheriff’s Office. The boxes give citizens a safe and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of their prescription medications. Anyone can drop off any prescription – no questions asked – at any of the locations.
“I’m glad we now have an alternative for citizens to dispose of their unused prescription drugs,” said Smyth County Sheriff Chip Shuler. “The first day our take-back box was in use, we had to empty it twice. That shows just how great the need is here in Smyth County.”
The boxes are permanent fixtures, and are bolted to the floor inside each agency. Anyone who wants to drop off medication can simply walk into the police departments or sheriff’s office and put their prescription in the box, where it will be properly disposed of. No appointments are necessary.
Smyth County Community Hospital was recently recognized by United States Senator Mark Warner for its efforts in addressing drug abuse in the region. Senator Warner said in a letter sent to Tyler: “By providing training to physicians and pharmacists, creating prescription drug take-back boxes, and calling for the establishment of a drug consortium, you are making a positive impact in the Smyth County community. I commend you for your work to combat the opioid epidemic.”
For more information on the drug take-back boxes, contact Lyndsey Hayden at 276-378-1206 or HaydenLP@msha.com.