Operation Medicine Cabinet Seeks To Protect Residents, County Waterways

By Tamas Mondovics

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the Home Instead Senior Care of Sun City and Hawthorne Village of Brandon Assisted Living Facility, has joined forces to provide residents a way to properly dispense their outdated prescription medicines and drugs this month.

The annual event, Operation Medicine Cabinet, which has been giving residents support and assistance for nearly a decade, is now scheduled for Thursday, October 8 from 9 a.m.-12 Noon at the Hawthorne Village of Brandon Assisted Living Facility located at 859 W. Lumsden Ave.

Since its inception in 2006, Operation Medicine Cabinet has collected close to 7,000 lbs. of prescription drugs and medications with the number continuing to grow.

According to Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office District 4 Master Deputy Curtis Warren and Home Instead Senior Care Franchise Owner Kristi Campbell, the event continues to gain momentum resulting in deputies collecting an average of nearly 500 lbs. of outdated, unwanted prescription or expired over-the-counter medication and drugs.

“Our goal and mission remains the same,” Warren said. “Operation Medicine Cabinet is designed to protect our residents, our families, and our environment.” Warren emphasized that one of the biggest problems is that instead of proper disposal, residents end up flushing their old unused medications down the toilet or drain.

“That is a big problem,” Campbell said. “Expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications from households should never be disposed of by this method as it can cause contamination of Florida’s aquatic environment.”

After their collection, all drugs are taken to a county hazardous waste collection site for incineration.

“Cleaning out your medicine cabinets is the best thing to do in order to be safe,” she said. “The goal is to stop the medication errors and keep everyone safe.”

While maintaining its annual Operation Medicine Cabinet drug collection event, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has also installed permanent drug drop-off boxes at its four patrol district offices.

The drop-off boxes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the result of an application in 2012 by the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant to fund the project entitled “Hillsborough County Drug Take Back Initiative.” For more information, visit, www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.