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June 11, 2015FOR IMMIDIATE RELEASE Contact: Councilwoman Bridget Fleming(631) 287-5745
Town Launches “Operation Medicine Cabinet- Senior Safety Days”
In conjunction with the Town’s Senior Services Program, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, working with the Department of Senior Services and the Southampton Town Police Department, has launched “Operation Medicine Cabinet – Senior Safety Days” at the Town’s three Senior Centers in Bridgehampton, Flanders and Hampton Bays. The program, which is for seniors who participate in the Town’s Senior Services Program and their caregivers, began on June 11th at the Hampton Bays Senior Center and will rotate on the first Thursday of every month at each of the three centers.“With the impairment of our waters becoming an increasingly important focus of attention, we must take all steps possible to reduce the impact of contamination in our sole source aquifer, and our surface waters,” said Councilwoman Fleming. “In addition, we must act to reduce the chance of unwanted medications falling into the wrong hands, resulting in dangerous accidents or abuse.”
In 2010, the Suffolk County Police Department created “Operation Medicine Cabinet” in order to address the environmental and public health concerns associated with the abuse of prescription medication and the improper disposal of medications. The purpose of the program is to collect pharmaceutical waste that consists of controlled substances, prescription medications, unwanted medications and over-the-counter medications that are no longer needed or have passed their expiration date.
In Southampton Town, the Police Department already maintains receptacles where residents can anonymously drop off unwanted medications, which are then safely disposed of offsite. “Operation Medicine Cabinet – Senior Safety Days” allows seniors and their caregivers to safely dispose of unwanted medications at the Town’s Senior Centers. Those that would like to participate will be asked to place the medications in clear sealed bags. Plastic bags will also be available at all sites.
“Operation Medicine Cabinet illustrates our Department’s commitment to keeping all of our citizens safer, protecting our young people from the harmful misuse of prescription drugs, understanding the needs of our seniors, and the environmental consequences related to improper disposal of medications,” said Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce. “The program has received overwhelming support from the community, other law enforcement agencies, our seniors and environmental groups.”Long Island is a sole source aquifer region, which means residents rely on groundwater for 100% of our drinking water. For decades, it was the position of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the NYS Department of Conservation to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals by flushing them. Flushing is no longer the recommended means of disposal, yet many individuals and institutions continue this practice. In 2002, the US Geological Survey found trace amounts of antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the water they tested. “Unfortunately, there continue to be misunderstandings, particularly in our senior community, of what is the safe way to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have passed their expiration date,” said Fleming. “This expansion of the successful “Operation Medicine Cabinet” program, seeks to serve the community at Southampton Town senior centers. It is a great opportunity to correct these misunderstandings, while still reducing the chance of accidental ingestion or abuse.”“Southampton Town Senior Services and our Seniors are very pleased to help get the word out about the importance of safe drug disposal and encourage our senior residents to come to our Senior Centers in Flanders, Hampton Bays and Bridgehampton on designated days,” said Senior Services Director Pam Giacoia. The next two drop-off days will be on July 2nd at the David Crohan Center in Flanders and August 6th at the Bridgehampton Center and rotate thereafter. All drop-off days will be held from 10 am until noon. For more information on “Operation Medicine Cabinet – Senior Safety Days” please contact Councilwoman Fleming at 631-287-5745., Property and Evidence Officer Theresa Tedesco at 631-702-2254 or Pam Giacoia at 631- 728-1235 to find out more about Operation Medicine Cabinet and the Towns Senior Services.