Mid Coast Hospital Nurses Take Concern for Drugs in the Environment to Peers Nationwide

For five years, nurses at Mid Coast Hospital have been in the forefront of efforts to remove unwanted medications from local waterways and the environment. Now they are taking their message to colleagues nationwide.

In an effort to educate their peers about the dangers of inappropriate disposal of medication, Surgical Nurse Bettie Kettell, RN, and Director of Community Health Improvement, Marla Davis, RN, have published a professional peer-reviewed article in the August issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

The article-titled "Leftover Drugs in the Water Supply: Don't Flush Those Pills!" -was co-authored with Michelle Lauer, RN, of Delaware.

Davis and Kettell have been active in the Mid Coast Medication Collection Partnership, which has been protecting citizens and the environment since 2005 by holding biennial medication collections.

The Partnership is made up of many concerned organizations including TRIAD, the Sagadahoc County Board of Health, Mid Coast Health Services, Public Health Nursing, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Communities Against Substance Abuse, and local law enforcement.

The program has collected thousands of pounds of medications, including many controlled substances.

"This is a cross-cutting issue that affects public safety as well as the environment" said Davis, who has been the coordinator of local collection efforts.

"We are concerned about the welfare of children and older people who are vulnerable to poisoning or taking the wrong medication. There is also a growing problem surrounding prescription medications, including stealing, trafficking, and home invasion, she said"

The Maine Legislature considered and tabled a bill last session that would have required drug manufacturers to take responsibility for the disposal of unwanted, outdated medications. A similar bill will be considered in 2011.

A mail-back program at the University of Maine Center on Aging has modeled how such a program can work. Funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the mail-back program does not have sustained funding.

The Fall Mid Coast Collection is planned for November 12, 2010.
For more information call 373-6585.