ACMH Hospital has a longstanding commitment to help communities address and prevent drug abuse through education, outreach and safe medication disposal. ACMH has partnered with District Attorney Scott Andreassi and the PDAA (Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association) to install a drug collection unit on the ACMH campus. This unit now gives local residents a safe, environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted medication.
The unit is located just inside the ACMH Hospital’s main entrance, allowing safe and secure drop off of unused medications from 7:30 am until 8:30 pm daily. The new MedReturn unit is intended to reduce the amount of unneeded medicine in residents’ homes and decrease prescription drug abuse, which has soared in recent years, especially among teenagers. More than 70 percent of teenagers say it is easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, according to a 2014 Partnership for Drug-Free Kids study.
“When you look at cases where people are struggling with drug addiction, prescription drugs are almost always a part of their story,” said Bill Rupert, Armstrong County Sheriff.
“The big issue in Armstrong County is the progression of prescription abuse to heroin,” explained coroner Brian Myers. “There were 28 overdose deaths in Armstrong County last year alone, and we’ve already surpassed that number for 2016. We rank second in the state when it comes to drug-related deaths, behind Philadelphia County.”
Scott Andreassi, Armstrong County District Attorney, was instrumental in bringing the MedReturn unit to ACMH. “Today we continue our cooperative efforts to address the issue of opioid abuse and addiction in our county. Our goal is to make sure every resident in Armstrong County has easy access to a return box to safely and effectively dispose of their unwanted medications – the placement of this box helps us meet that goal. By partnering with ACMH Hospital and the PDAA, we become just the third county in the state to place a medication return box in a medical facility, continuing a long history of cooperation between the hospital and the community to address drugs and drug abuse. I would encourage all residents to identify any unused or expired medications in their homes and dispose of them in one of the boxes located in the county. I want to thank ACMH and the PDAA for helping our residents make this commitment to reducing the availability of prescription medications in our communities.”
“The PDAA commends District Attorney Scott Andreassi and ACMH Hospital for installing a Med Return collection box at the hospital,” stated Rich Long, PDAA Executive Director. “The abuse of opioids continues to destroy individuals, families and communities across Pennsylvania. MedReturn units provide the public with a safe, convenient way to dispose of unused medications. Doing so improves public health and safety by decreasing access to dangerous drugs while also protecting our water supply. We encourage the people of Armstrong County to make good use of not only this box, but the other four boxes located in the county.”
Rod Groomes, MD explained that people should always properly dispose of prescription drugs they are no longer using. “Patients sometimes come into the Emergency Department [at ACMH] with bags full of medication, and are confused about which they should be taking,” he said. “We always encourage patients to get rid of any medications they do not need. Now with a MedReturn unit in the hospital, it’s easier than ever.”
ACMH Hospital’s MedReturn unit was funded by a grant from the PCCD (PA Commission on Crime & Delinquency). In addition to the ACMH location, there are medication return units accessible at police departments throughout Armstrong County and the surrounding area.
Many people are apprehensive about dropping their unused medications at police stations. “Having a MedReturn unit at ACMH takes that stigma away,” explains Cindy McCrea, Executive Director of ARC Manor. “The number one problem we encounter [at ARC Manor] is prescription drug abuse, which usually starts by people raiding others’ medicine cabinets. Oftentimes this leads to the use of opiates such as heroin.”
“As part of our ongoing commitment to combat prescription drug abuse, this MedReturn unit adds a new dimension to our Drugs Kill Dreams® outreach and education program,” said John Lewis, ACMH President and CEO. “Because we see first-hand the devastating consequences of drug abuse and addiction in our Emergency Department, we have a greater understanding of the importance of these prevention initiatives. With the MedReturn unit installation at ACMH, local residents no longer have to wait for a specific ‘take-back day.’ This could be one of the most effective things we’ve ever done to get drugs off the streets.”
“This is another great example of our partnership with ACMH Hospital,” said Magisterial District Judge J. Gary DeComo, as he thanked John Lewis for his continued support of the Drugs Kill Dreams® program. “While our program continues to spread its prevention message to parents and youth throughout the community, having this medication disposal unit at ACMH will provide those individuals we reach with a place to dispose of medications that could potentially lead to a dangerous situation for a loved one.”