Nine Northwell Health facilities will be participating in this year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28, which is an opportunity for people to take unused and expired prescriptions and safely remove them from their homes.
Southside Hospital in Bay Shore; Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead; Huntington Hospital; North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset; Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park; Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco; Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow; and Lenox Hill Hospital and Lenox Health Greenwich Village in Manhattan will have receptacles at the hospitals for people to safely deposit these leftover prescriptions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Northwell Health collected more than 300 pounds of unused prescriptions during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day last October. The latest event is organized by the Drug Enforcement Association.
“It was so gratifying to see the large quantity of unneeded and expired drugs brought to Northwell Health facilities last drug take-back day in October,” said Peg Butler, Northwell Health’s assistant vice president of marketing and external relations who helped organize last year’s efforts in Manhattan as well as this year’s receptacles. “We’ll dispose of a lot more this year as we double the number of Northwell facilities participating. We want to do everything we can to keep these drugs from falling into the wrong hands. This is a hugely important community service we’re proud to provide.”
Unused prescription medications can be a temptation for curious teenagers and others to experiment with opiates or other drugs. Northwell Health has made one of its missions to help curb the opioid epidemic in New York State through its Northwell Health Opioid Management Steering Committee, which is an outgrowth of the successful pilot program at Southside Hospital.
There were 2,726 deaths related to opioids in New York State in 2015, according to the New York State Department of Health, up from 2,256 the prior year. New York City saw 893 of those deaths; there were 463 more on Long Island.
“Hearing these staggering numbers each year breaks my heart and has prompted us at Northwell Health to aggressively work in a variety of ways to try to lessen the amount of opiate and prescription drug abuse in our area,” said Jonathan Morgenstern, assistant vice president of addiction services at Northwell Health. “People bringing their unused prescriptions to these sites can help us make an impact on the opioid epidemic.”
In addition to removing unused prescriptions drugs from the community, Northwell Health is working on several initiatives to target opioid abuse from screening and life-saving techniques to offering treatment:
• Northwell’s screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment program helps identify potential issues by screening patients during routine medical visits.
• South Oaks Hospital in Amityville offers free naloxone training and rescue kits to community members. Naloxone, otherwise known as narcan, is a nasal spray that is used when someone has overdosed to try to reverse the situation.
• Northwell, in conjunction with the Engel Burman Group, are in the process of building a substance abuse treatment residence in Calverton on eastern Long Island.
• Southside Hospital has a secure prescription return location available 24/7 in the hospital’s lobby. Northwell Health anticipates adding this prescription disposal option at other facilities in the future.
For more information about National Drug Take Back Day, go to https://takebackday.dea.gov/.