New kiosks in hospitals help tackle opioid crisis

RAPID CITY, S.D (KOTA TV) - Two years ago, 35 deaths were reported in the state and all linked to opioid usage.

A MedDrop kiosk stands in the front lobby of Regional Health Rapid City Hospital. (KOTA TV)

Pennington County is not only tackling the problem legally, by passing a resolution last month calling opioids a public nuisance but by adding some new kiosks at hospitals.

See related story Pennington County Commissioners pass resolution to combat opioid crisis

Regional Health is tackling the opioid crisis one MedDrop kiosk at a time.

"A lot of the problem happens when there is left over opiates in a household from a surgery, a dental procedure, an accident. And so they're in the medicine cabinet. They're in the bathroom," Rapid City Regional Health Director of Pharmacy Dana Darger said.

But to make it easy for the public to dispose their extra pills, now people can go to the hospital lobbies in Spearfish, Deadwood, Sturgis, Custer or even here in Rapid City.

In just three months, the kiosk in Rapid City filled up to the top and was dumped out.

In the past, people suggested to flush your pills down the toilet. However, it's not a safe or an eco-friendly method.

But with the MedDrop kiosks the pills are collected and sent to a specific waste management facility. At that facility, the pills are burned to an ash. Then the ashes are reburned to ensure that they are no traces left behind of the pills.

Each kiosk holds up to 20 pounds of prescription medications.

Security cameras keep an eye on it to ensure no one steals the disposed pills.

A sergeant who works for the narcotics team with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office says part of the problem is how America over-prescribes pain medications.

"They've kind of a came to the conclusion that they don't have to feel any pain and so they've started prescribing pain medications for things that they wouldn't have before," Sgt. Taylor Sperle with UNET (unified narcotics enforcement team) said.

Darger agrees and said the hospital is monitoring their prescriptions.

"I think a lot of things have happened in the last two years, I think that encourage providers to give smaller quantities or not provide opiates at all," Darger said.

He said the hospital's quantity per subscription has decreased by 30 percent in two years.