The passing of a loved one can be an overwhelming experience with the surviving spouse left to make many decisions all while grieving. One of those tasks is figuring out what to do with medicines that are no longer needed.
This was the case for a patient assisted by Cammi Fletcher, a pharmacy intern volunteer at Sheep Inc Health Care Clinic, a faith-based, free medical center that serves the underinsured and uninsured in Penn Hills, PA.
In her last year of pharmacy school, Fletcher has worked as a volunteer alongside the pharmacist to complete medication reconciliations, administer vaccines and answer patient questions. In the course of these interactions, patients will sometimes ask if they can leave their unneeded medications for disposal. Fletcher was unable to help these patients as Sheep Inc is not a registered take back location and their clients don’t always have vehicles or easy access to drop-off kiosks in the community. This led Cammi to request DisposeRx packets and education materials to offer patients an easy at-home option to dispose of medications as they are no longer needed. The clinic is now a DisposeRx Community Outreach Program partner
The DisposeRx packets have been well received by clinic patients. Fletcher noted that the instructions are easy to understand, and the diagrams enable those who speak different languages to also use the packets.It was during one of these recent visits that Cammi was counseling a patient on the importance of disposal. The woman became upset during their conversation and shared that her husband had recently passed, and it had never occurred to her that she should discard of his medications. She was already feeling overwhelmed and was unsure how to go about disposing of his prescriptions. Fletcher gave her DisposeRx packets, and the patient was grateful to have one less thing to worry about handling and that she was able to make her home safer for her children and grandchildren.
Fletcher also noted that having conversations about disposal can also lead to the important and oftentimes difficult conversation of harm reduction for those patients that have opioid prescriptions. As the number of opioid overdoses have skyrocketed during the pandemic, Cammi noted the growing importance of educating patients about the importance of having Naloxone in case it is needed to stop an overdose. Having a more general conversation about disposal will often pave the way.
DisposeRx is thrilled to work with the upcoming generation of pharmacists like Cammi Fletcher and is proud to support the efforts of Sheep Inc as it provides much needed care for the uninsured.