EVART — Over the past year and a half, Spectrum Health hospitals and Ten16 Recovery Network have work together to help families properly dispose of various medicines and needles that patients no longer needed.

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, Scott Lombard, community outreach manager for Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals, and Shay Tullar, Ten16 Recovery Network prevention coordinator, collected excess medications and needles at Evart Family Practice. Within approximately the first hour, medications and needles representing nine people had been collected.

Lombard said those dropping off prescription and over-the-counter medicines, needles, inhalers, ointments and more during these events are asked how many people were served by the medications to get an idea of the impact.

“These events give us a chance to reduce medication misuse and abuse,” Lombard said. “One of the ways people get medications not prescribed to them is from family.”

Tullar agreed, noting oftentimes families may keep medications in the bathroom, a place where people have a private moment to themselves in which they could take medications belonging to someone else. With events like the one on Tuesday, Tullar said the risks of people getting medications belonging to others is reduced.

She also noted an increase in the number of medications and needles turned in during take-back events and medications at drop boxes in local law enforcement offices.

“Ten16 has been doing these events for eight years,” she said, noting approximately 9,000 pounds of medications and needles have been dropped off in that time. “We hoped over the years, we would see less, but that has not been the case.”

More take-back events are planned through the year.