Robeson County programs tackle unused meds, diabetes and rabies

By Bill Smith

Bill Smith Contributing columnist

Operation Medicine Drop, which is supported by Safekids and our local law enforcement agencies, is having its next event Oct. 22 at Biggs Park Mall in Lumberton from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event allows people to discard their unused medicines at a drop site. Having unused medicines that can be accessed by family members is one of the causes of our national prescription drug overdose problem, of which Robeson County is a part.

So how successful has it been in the past? From January 2015 to August 2016 (four events) 140,327 pills were turned in and disposed of. In fact, going back to 2011, more than 350,000 pills have been collected.

No matter how you look at it, that is a lot of unused pills and reflects on several issues surrounding that volume of availability. I have joined the night-stand-full-of-pill-bottles brigade recently but mine are stabilizers — no uppers, downers, relaxants or relievers, so really no value to anyone not trying to maintain and survive. I know there have been efforts with prescribers to limit the number of pills to a minimum of need rather that addressing convenience and I think headway has been made. I did come face to face to this when my daughter had a premature baby at East Carolina University. The physician, who she saw once, told her as he was leaving, here is a prescription for pain. She had expressed no problem with pain, is a Motrin kind of girl and was breastfeeding, yet now she had a prescription for 30 Oxycontins. Facetiously, she remarked maybe this is supposed to help pay the $100,000 baby bill that was coming!

The third annual Diabetes Wellness Day is Oct. 15 from 8 to 3:30 p.m. at the Student Center at Robeson Community College. This annual event, which sponsored by the Diabetes Community Advisory Board, a local group working with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, features discussions and exhibits surrounding this chronic disease as well as some samples and agency representatives.

The rate of death for diabetes in Robeson County is twice the state rate. Of course, this runs neck and neck with obesity and physical activity, as they all get inter-related at times. Registration is being accepted on-line but the address is impossibly long. You can call Whitney McFarland at 910-671-3442 for information.

And thanks to the veterinarians’ efforts to administer rabies vaccinations at the fire stations throughout the county last month. In total, 1,004 pets were vaccinated. One could look at it and say that reflects only 2 percent of the total pets in the county and be right. Or you could look at it and say they averaged more than 30 per fire station in a small window of opportunity and 25 percent more were vaccinated than the year before.

I think the latter statement is more reflective of their efforts and should be the take-home message. As a rabid cat was found in Lumberton last week and realizing that an un-accinated pet that comes in contact with a wild animal invariably results in a euthanized pet, a thousand people should feel safer by this event and the protection the veterinarians provided. And a thanks to the Board of Commissioners for being willing to help subsidize the costs.

Bill Smith Contributing columnist Smith Contributing columnist

By Bill Smith

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.


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