Quay County Public Health gets needle drop

TV Hagenah

Those people who use syringes to administer medicine to themselves now have a safe way to dispose of those syringes and needles in Tucumcari.

“This is a very important innovation for Tucumcari and Quay County,” said Quay County Commissioner Jeff Lewalling about the placement of a collection box for needles and syringes at the Quay County Public Health Office located at the south end of Tucumcari adjacent to Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital. “This is such an addition to the safety and the convenience of the county.” Lewalling pointed to the dangers of syringes left out and problems with safely disposing of them.

Director of the Quay County Public Health Office, Dee Reed, said she agrees wholeheartedly with Lewalling about all points he stressed. She said there are many people in the county with conditions such as type one diabetics and people who take hormone injections who need to inject different medicines to maintain their health. After a person has injected themselves is when many problems begin said Reed. “They need to get rid of them,” said Reed, “and that’s what this allows them to do.”

Public health nurse Jene Black echoed Reed’s statements.
“This is for anyone that wants to dispose of dirty needles,” said Black. Reed said that some people who use needles to inject themselves with medicine have been collecting them for years and did not know what to do with them. She said she has heard of people keeping syringes in gallon milk containers and shampoo and conditioner bottles.
“This way they can turn them in,” said Reed.

The “drop box” for the syringes is located at the west end of the public health building which is just east of the hospital.
“You don’t even have to get out of your car to drop them off,” said Lewalling. Reed said this was an aspect that she thought would especially appeal to the elderly or those suffering from such ailments as rheumatism or arthritis.
“All they have to do is put the needles and syringes in some sort of container that can’t be punctured and drop them in the drop box,” said Reed. The health department head said it is necessary to put the needles and syringes in something like plastic bottles because employees of the public health office will be emptying the drop box and exposed needles would endanger them. She suggested using shampoo bottles, half liter soft-drink bottles or other such thick plastic containers.

Reed said gallon milk containers will not fit in the box, but those who have been keeping their needles in this manner should bring the container by and drop it off at the public health office. “We would prefer not to have to do it that way. That’s why the drop box was built after all,” said Reed, “but we’ll do it that way now so they can be disposed of. But if people have been keeping needles in the larger container, they shouldn’t try to take them out. They should bring them in and we will dispose of them.” Reed said the whole-needle disposal program was spearheaded by the New Mexico Department of Health who has tried to get drop boxes such as Quay County now has out to as many communities as possible.

A firm out of Albuquerque called Stericycle comes by regularly to collect the discarded needles and syringes.