TOPPENISH, Wash. - The Astria Sunnyside Hospital has had a medication drop off box for many years, however, the hospital has now updated to a more secure box and added one in their Toppenish hospital. 

According to the Astria Health System Director of Pharmacy at Astria Hospital Elizabeth Jensen, these boxes can play an important role in removing drugs from our community.

"Everybody has medications that they start using and maybe it doesn't work out for them in therapy or they end up with extra medication or they just don't finish it because they don't need it," Jensen said. "You end up with these bottles in your home that you can have for years. What these allow you to do is get rid of them in a safe and secure and confidential manner."

She said this may be especially important for people who don't feel comfortable dropping them off at a police station or during drug take back days if they struggle with drug problems or are known to law enforcement. 

While Astria's Med-Project boxes are in their emergency room's lobbies they aren't policed. Any medications are welcome but not needles or illegal drugs. 

Jensen said getting rid of unused medications in your home could potentially save innocent lives. 

"Children can unintentionally get into medications and overdose fairly easily not knowing that it's something that they shouldn't take because quite often medications are shiny and they might look like candies," she said.

According to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, since March 2020 overdose hospitalizations in kids under five increased 20% across the nation. Removing drugs from your home could help keep them out of kids hands. 

According to Jensen, it could also help those struggling with addiction because once they're in the box, you can't get them back.

"It's non retrievable so it's a good first step in getting rid of those medications out of your house," she said.

Once the drop box is full the company that owns the box, Med-Project, incinerates everything inside. The old box outside of the Sunnyside ER was 28 gallons and was emptied about once a month. That being the case, Jensen thinks the new boxes will be used often too. 

You can find other year-round drug drop off locations by searching your area on the DEA's website.