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VNA Starts Drug Disposal Service For Hospice

SANATOGA PA – Drug disposal pouches distributed last month by the state Attorney General’s Office will be put to immediate use by the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Pottstown and Vicinity, headquartered at 1963 E. High St., and its parent company in an effort to help families of some hospice patients and the community help fight drug abuse.

Wyomissing-based non-profit Home Health Care Management Inc., which operates both the Pottstown and Berks VNAs, said Thursday (July 27, 2017) it would provide drug disposal not only as a benefit for its clients but also to keep potentially dangerous drugs like opioids out of the hands of unauthorized users.

Central to the VNAs’ new service are pouches jointly made available during mid-July by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association. Prescription medications can be placed in the pouches, which are then filled with warm water to deactivate them, and sealed. Hospice staff members and a patient’s family can safely dispose of them with normal trash.

Management company president and chief executive officer Constance Morrison said the VNAs provide end-of-life hospice care to about 400 families across seven counties. Managing their patients’ pain occasionally requires strong opioid-based medications that are the focus of a growing local and national drug abuse epidemic.

Drug take-back initiatives routinely conducted by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and supported locally by police departments and fire companies, help get many problematic drugs out of medicine cabinets and off the streets. Some police departments, including Lower Pottsgrove’s, also provide secure drug disposal containers in their reception areas.

But “properly disposing (of) those medications is not high on a family’s priority list” when a loved one dies, “nor should it be,” Berks County state Sen. Judy Schwank noted. The new program gives area residents served by the VNAs “an easy way to ensure their loved one’s medicine won’t be abused,” she added.

Morrison said her agencies were “thankful to the attorney general and the PHA for initiating a program that helps further our continuum of care and helps the community.”

The Pottstown and Berks VNAs provide advanced nursing and therapies (physical, occupational and speech), medical social work, dietician services, and hospice. Their specialty programs include congestive heart failure disease management, diabetes disease management, COPD management, wound ostomy and continence care, IV therapies, telehealth and telemonitoring, psychiatric and mental health home care, palliative care, and hospice.

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