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Commission learns 300 lbs of meds dropped off
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Saturday morning, the Barton County Sheriffs Department and the Barton County Health Department together manned the drug take-back booth they set up at the southeast corner of the Courthouse Square. It was National Drug Disposal Day. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir was pleased, having already collected more than 70 pounds of expired or excess prescription drugs before noon. Individuals showed up periodically throughout the morning with bags of pills which were immediately dumped into lined boxes. After the boxes are filled, they are sealed and transported to the Drug Enforcement Agency where they are incinerated, Bellendir said. Area hospitals, nursing homes, and veterinary clinics also came with expired medications. The twice yearly drop-offs are one way to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune


Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider commented on the final results of Drug Take Back Day when she addressed the County Commission Monday morning. During the four hours Sheriff Brian Bellendir and health department staff manned the booth at the corner of Kansas St. and Lakin Ave., 175 pounds of unused, outdated drugs were dropped. This is far more than Schneider expected to collect, considering it was the second time this year the county has conducted this event. The first time was in April. Between both events, over 300 pounds of prescription and non-prescription drugs have been turned in.
Schneider noted that 175 pounds is significant when the average pill bottle might weigh less than a few ounces. Repeated take-back events may be encouraging participation.
“Sometimes when you have things more regularly, people will save their stuff and are more likely to bring them in.”
Commissioner Don Davis said he and his wife have turned in unused prescriptions.
“Even though the doctor prescribes enough pain medication to get through 30 days following a surgery, you might only use them for five days,” he said. “You use them until you don’t need them anymore, and then you dispose of them so you keep them out of the hands of children or grandchildren.”
As a nurse, the value of the prescriptions wasn’t lost on Schneider. She estimated well over $500,000 worth of drugs were collected.
“It is just so sad how much money is spent and then wasted on pharmaceuticals, but they are off the streets. Nobody can take them to school and sell them, and nobody can misuse them,” she said.
Having the drugs disposed of properly is preferable to simply flushing them, which could result in contamination of soils and the water supply, Schneider said.
She noted the drug drop-off couldn’t happen without the assistance of the Sheriff.