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Metro Health Hospital and City of Wyoming Drug and Mercury Take Back Success

Metro Health Hospital and the City of Wyoming took in 431.5 pounds of prescription and over the counter drugs on Saturday — including a record 4.4 pounds of mercury.

For the seventh year, the region’s leading community hospital and the City of Wyoming participated in National Drug Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. A law enforcement officer was on hand to anonymously accept prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, including controlled substances, with no questions asked.

Metro Health also accepted and disposed of mercury thermometers, as well as outdated electrical components containing mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, high levels of mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system of people of all ages, and the developing nervous system of small children and unborn babies. Those who dropped off a mercury thermometer received a new digital thermometer in return from the City of Wyoming.

“Mercury exposure is dangerous to people and the environment,” said City of Wyoming Environmental Services Supervisor Dave Oostindie. “By safely disposing of mercury, exposure is limited, and both people and the environment are protected. A mercury spill of even a fraction of what was collected would have been enough to close the hospital and most local schools.”

Oostindie stressed that a broken mercury thermometer can be very dangerous. Residents should never attempt to sweep or vacuum a broken mercury thermometer or dispose of mercury down a drain. Clothes or shoes that have come into contact with mercury should be immediately discarded without washing.

“We at Metro Health recognize sustainability is key to our community’s health, said Ellen Bristol, spokesperson at Metro Health. “We are dedicated to providing holistic care for our patients and are proud to include environmental stewardship as a part of that mission, in order to protect our community’s well being for years to come.

Learn more about how to respond and who to call in the case of a mercury spill at http://www.recyclekent.org/Guide/Mercury.htm, or in an emergency call 800.648.6942 to reach the State of Michigan Toxics Hotline.

Growing concern over pharmaceutical pollution in waterways and prescription drug abuse has led cities across the nation to develop drug take back programs. The West Michigan Take Back Meds program is a joint effort between local pharmacies, law enforcement, wastewater treatment facilities and government agencies to provide residents with safe, convenient access to proper medicine disposal.

Wyoming residents who wish to dispose of prescription medications may do so Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, 2300 DeHoop Ave. SW. The City of Wyoming is a member of the Kent County Department of Public Works Household Hazardous Waste Program. For more information on proper disposal of mercury thermometers, visit https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/DPW/hhw.htm.

About Metro Health

An award-winning leader in community healthcare, Metro Health serves more than 250,000 patients annually from across West Michigan – and beyond.  In addition to its 208-bed hospital, which provides a comprehensive suite of inpatient and outpatient healthcare services, Metro Health has a growing number neighborhood outpatient centers and offices throughout West Michigan, as well as a community clinic for the underserved and a student health clinic on the campus of Grand Valley State University.  With more than 500 physicians on staff, Metro Health provides a growing number of specialty health services, including cancer treatment, heart and vascular, neurology, pulmonology and others.  Many are members of the Metro Health Medical Group.  The hospital is committed to promoting health and wellness through the work of the Metro Health Hospital Foundation, Live Healthy community outreach classes and educational programs and more.  Visit us www.metrohealth.net, follow us on Twitter @MetroHealthGr and like us on Facebook/MetroHealth.

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joseph.weller@metrogr.org