Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good Homes

Today I made arrangements for the stuff of Dad's we don't want or can't use, or that someone else can use more than we can. Tomorrow -- hopefully with the help of a friend with a truck -- we'll be carting Dad's walker, extra Ensure, low-vision equipment, oxygen concentrator, and scooter (that's where the truck comes in, since the scooter won't fit in our car) to Care Chest, a local agency that lends or gives medical equipment and supplies to people in need. Tuesday, the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission will be picking up Dad's extra furniture and household goods for sale in their thrift shop.

Gary and I had already reimbursed ourselves for the concentrator from Dad's funds, and we'd been vaguely thinking of trying to sell it on Craig's List. But I've decided that I can't stand the idea of making a profit for helping people breathe, so the concentrator will go to Care Chest along with the other medical supplies. They'll be very happy to have it, I'm sure.

That left Dad's meds, most of which were partly used. I'd asked the nursing supervisor at the assisted-living place what we should do with them, and she said to mix them with clumping kitty litter and water and let them decompose outside somewhere. But in addition to environmental concerns -- how much Lasix do we want in the Truckee River? -- and waste of perfectly good meds, this would have meant spending hours popping pills out of bubble packs. I just couldn't see it.

So I asked Care Chest if they take meds. "No," the nice guy on the phone told me, "but the homeless outreach clinic does." So I called them, and was delighted when they said they'd accept our shopping bag of miscellaneous drugs. (I think Dad was on nine or eleven prescriptions when he died, down from a high of twenty-three a few years ago.) This is exactly where Dad would want his extra medicine to go, and when I told the assisted-living nurse, she was delighted, too, and wrote down the clinic phone number so she can donate there.

At my request, Gary went with me to drop off the meds. Reno's new homeless-services complex is beautiful, but predictably enough, it's surrounded by a small tent-and-mattress city, along with people just hanging out on the sidewalk, and I wasn't sure I wanted to be traipsing through there with a bag containing, among other things, a lot of Vicodin (not that the folks outside would have known that). Of course everything went fine, but I was still glad Gary was there.

If you're in the Reno area, please spread the word: don't discard good meds! Give them to HAWC! And give durable medical equipment to Care Chest!


  1. How splendid! We are donating Mama's glasses to the Lion's club, and looking for a place for her hearing aids. I want to make a Mama quilt from some of her clothes. I have never made one, but I think I can do it.

  2. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Wow -- the nursing supervisor told you to ground up the pills and leave them outside to decompose!

    In Canada, we're told to return all unused prescriptions and medications to a local pharmacy where they'll dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

    I agree with the above post -- splendid decisions and donations!

  3. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this information!

    I hope you don't mind, but I copied and e-mailed this post (with attribution) to my mom, who is a nurse. She works labor and delivery, so this isn't the kind of question she gets asked regularly in her actual practice, and she doesn't live anywhere near Reno, but it's good to know that there are possible solutions to disposal of prescription drugs that will actually HELP other people. I've asked her to look into similar opportunities in her area and to pass the information on to her friends in the medical community because there just has to be a better way to deal with excess meds (that aren't needed for a whole variety of reasons -- including intolerance to that particular prescription) than throwing hundreds of dollars of pharmaceuticals down the drain!

  4. Susan, this is wonderful to hear -- I too have despaired at the waste that occurs when someone's meds have to be disposed of rather than being given to someone who could really use them. I should check out our local clinics to find out if there is something like that here.

    Bright blessings for being able to do the right thing, and double blessings on you for donating the concentrator.


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