When David DeSando learned that plans to install a prescription drug drop-off box in the lobby of the Cobleskill Police Station had been put on hold because it would be too expensive, he took matters into his own hands.
Wednesday, Mr. DeSando, who's director of pharmacy at Cobleskill Regional Hospital, along with Police Chief Rich Bialkowski, and Schoharie County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse reps Norine Hodges and Lisa Boss celebrated the result of his efforts:
A drop-off box in the lobby of the Cobleskill PD on 378 Mineral Springs Road, available Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, excepting holidays.
A second drop-off box, also funded by Mr. DeSando's efforts, is located on the second floor lobby of the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office, 157 Depot Lane, Schoharie and available Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm, excepting holidays.
This spring, the Village of Cobleskill agreed to a request from then-Chief Larry Travis to put a drug drop-off box at the Cobleskill PD--plans that were shelved because the costs of incinerating the drugs and officers' time to transport them to the nearest facility.
Convinced of the importance of the project, Mr. DeSando began searching for funding for it.
"It's really something we need in Schoharie County," he said," and it's a tremendous benefit to the community."
The first to step forward with funding was Eric Stein, CEO at Cobleskill Regional Hospital, who agreed to pay half the cost for two years.
Mr. DeSando then took his campaign to Joyce Burton of the Schoharie County Medical Society, which agreed to donate $1,500; District Attorney Jim Sacket also agreed to donate a portion of drug fines to the project.
Additional funding will be needed to keep the project going, Mr. DeSando said, "But it's a great start."
The project also required approvals from DEC and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
Mr. DeSando said the drop-off boxes are intended as a way for residents to get rid of unwanted or expired prescription drugs, something local pharmacies aren't equipped to do.
They also protect the elderly, who can become confused by having too many unneeded drugs in their homes, and keep controlled substances from getting into the wrong hands.
Finally, he said, they'll keep the no longer needed drugs from being dumped in the trash or flushed down the toilet, where they will eventually contaminate the water system.
The unneeded medications, including pills, inhalers, and small volumes of liquids, should be emptied into a zip-lock bag.
The empty bottles can be recycled with other household items. Removing names when possible to protect your own privacy.
Needles and syringes shouldn't be put in the drop boxes, but can be taken to the disposal container located at the Cobleskill Regional Hospital Emergency Department desk.
The disposal process at both sites is anonymous. No registration is needed.
Now, Mr. DeSando is working to spread his efforts throughout the state.
He and Cobleskill Regional Hospital's Roy Korn have met with Assemblyman Pete Lopez about how to place drop-off boxes in every county in the state.
Currently, about 20 counties don't have a program.
"Pete was very receptive to this idea and now we can start building a framework to make it a reality," Mr. DeSando said.
"Funding is usually the issue, so that will be the biggest hurdle we have to overcome."
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To make a tax-deductible contribution to the drug drop-box project, mail checks made payable to Prescription Drug Drop Off Program and mail care of SCCASA, 795 East Main Street, Suite 9, Cobleskill, NY 12043.