Four Western New York hospitals have been added to the growing list of places where people can safely get rid of used needles and unwanted medications.
Disposal kiosks are now in place at Buffalo General Medical Center, John R. Oishei Children's Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, and DeGraff Memorial Hospital. The four Kaleida Health facilities add to a list of more than 30 existing locations where drugs and needles can be discarded safely.
At a news conference Wednesday, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the county's opioid task force has been working with law enforcement, community organizations, and the medical community to respond to the increase in overdoses and overdose deaths of recent years.
"We identified safe, convenient and anonymous disposal of drugs and sharps as one of our strategies to address this public health crisis," Burstein said.
Burstein noted nearly 19,000 pounds of unwanted drugs have been collected so far this year. That outpaces 2018, when 26,500 pounds were collected over the entire year. The health commissioner said the safe disposal of drugs is critical in keeping powerful opioids away from the hands of addicts and children, as well as out of the water supply.
The contents of the drop boxes are transported to Covanta Energy, where they are incinerated, free of charge, as a service for the eight counties of Western New York.
A list of disposal locations can be found here.
WBFO's Thomas O'Neil-White contributed to this report.