Town offers free sharps disposal containers
By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
EAST LONGMEADOW Residents in need of disposal containers in order to legally throw away medical sharps will soon have the opportunity to get their hands on one thanks to the town of East Longmeadow and the Hampden County Health Coalition.
The Board of Selectmen voted at its Sept. 11 meeting to allow Town Administrator Nick Breault to work with Council on Aging Director Carolyn Brennan to devise a plan to distribute the necessary medical waste disposal containers.
"As part of some of the social services that they offer, [Brennan] seemed to think that it would be an appropriate way to dispense of them and that they could, in fact, verify that there was a need," Breault said.
Sharps disposal containers have become a necessity as of July 1 when a state law regarding medical waste disposal went into effect, making it illegal for residents to put medical sharps in household trash collections.
Despite the fact that approval of these regulations was given approximately four years ago, many municipalities throughout Western Massachusetts have spent the year scrambling to find disposal options for their residents.
Breault originally presented the idea of distributing the containers during the Sept. 29 drug take back event to the board at its Sept. 4 meeting, explaining that the Hampden County Health Coalition has provided the town some containers through a donation it received.
"Through our affiliation with the Hampden County Health Coalition, we have received a limited number, but if you look at the overall grant, a generous number of sharps disposal by mail kits [are offered]," he said. "A donation was made from Baystate Health Systems for all of the members of the coalition to distribute these for free to citizens."
While in favor of using the prescription drop-off event to distribute the containers, Board of Selectmen Chair James Driscoll suggested Breault develop a procedure for assessing need, as the town has a limited supply.
Driscoll reiterated the importance of creating a system in the interest of protecting those who legitimately need to dispose of sharps, such as someone with diabetes.
"When I say 'need,' I'm not necessarily talking about monetary need, making sure these go to someone with medical need, versus someone who is just grabbing them and re-selling them," he said.
Breault came back to the board with a suggestion that the Council on Aging oversee the distribution of the sharps disposal containers instead of handing them out at the drug take back event.
The prescription drug drop-off event is slated to take place at the East Longmeadow Police Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Police Chief Douglas Mellis told the Selectmen at their Aug. 22 meeting that the event, conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, allows residents to safely dispose of prescription medication that has either expired or they have no use for.
"Many people in town have lost a loved one and have months of supplies of some heavy-duty pills that we don't want to go down the drain because it does show up in the groundwater," Mellis said, adding that last year they collected more than 100 pounds of drugs.
Also on Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to noon will be a Shred Day event at which residents can dispose of any papers they wish to safely destroyed by ProShred, free of charge in the parking lot at the Council on Aging.
A donation of a non-perishable food item to benefit the Council on Aging's emergency food pantry is requested.