Mercy Health - Youngstown Introduces Medication Disposal Drop Boxes at All Three Hospital Locations

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO (May 31, 2017) – Mercy Health - Youngstown is joining the ranks of Mahoning Valley organizations that offer collection sites for the disposal of unwanted medications. The healthcare provider recently introduced Medication Disposal Drop Boxes at its St. Elizabeth Youngstown, St. Elizabeth Boardman and St. Joseph Warren hospitals.


Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. And data show that improper disposal and subsequent abuse of prescription medication is a serious problem in the Mahoning Valley and across Northeast Ohio. Improper disposal of medications is a contributing factor to the perpetuation of the cycle of abuse, addiction and accidental death.


Mercy Health - Youngstown's program will help fight these pervasive issues by enabling the safe disposal of unwanted or unused medication. The program will also help decrease the circulation of pharmaceutical waste in the water supply by helping minimize the incidence of disposal through flushing or dumping into sinks or drains.


Paul S. Homick, Jr., president of the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley and executive sponsor of the local initiative, said Mercy Health has a responsibility to expand resources for the community, especially as the opiate epidemic continues to have such a profound impact on our region.


“The opiate epidemic affects all of us, our families and our friends,” Homick said. “We hear about tragic overdoses and deaths each day and the statistics are staggering. But behind the statistics and news stories is a human tragedy, a human story. The drop boxes will provide a safe, secure, convenient way for people in our communities to anonymously dispose of medications. Reducing access to drugs is a critical component to addressing the opiate epidemic.”


The Mahoning Valley collection points are part of a broader initiative across Mercy Health, which also includes seven other regions in Ohio and Kentucky. In addition to medication collection receptacles, the organization’s Opiate Epidemic Initiative includes educational programs, medication prescribing guidelines, screening and intervention protocols and more.


The Mercy Health Medication Disposal Drop Boxes have a special focus on opioid and narcotic medications. Members of the community can use the receptacles to dispose of the following medications: 

  • Legal medications
  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Fluid medications less than 4 oz. or 120 ml


The following items cannot be disposed of in the receptacles: 

  • Illicit, illegal or dangerous substances
  • Inhalers
  • Nasal sprays
  • Non-medical or hazardous chemicals, such as household cleaners
  • Fluid medications more than 4 oz. or 120 ml
  • Sharps, needles or syringes
  • Batteries
  • Aerosol cans
  • Medical devices (e.g., glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, etc.)


Barry Shick, chief pharmacy officer, and Ryan Bonacci, chief of the Mercy Health - Youngstown Police Department, who collaborated to operationalize the program across the hospitals, shared the role the program can play in engaging the entire community in improving safety.


“The mission of our program is to provide a safe, accountable community program for the disposal of unused, unwanted medications, especially pain medications that are potent narcotic, controlled substances,” they said. “We encourage members of our community to rid their homes of these substances by placing them into one of our collection receptacles. By removing these medications from your household, you’re helping keep others safe by potentially preventing an accident or overdose of medication.”


Mercy Health - Youngstown's three drop boxes operate much like placing an envelope or package into a drop-off mailbox. The individual opens a drawer and places his or her medication containers into it. Then, he or she closes the drawer, allowing the medication containers to drop into the collection liner inside the receptacle. The drawer prohibits access to the contents once they drop into the liner.


The boxes will be collaboratively maintained by the Mercy Health - Youngstown Police Department (MHYPD) and Pharmacy Department, following guidelines set forth by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. All locations are accessible to the public, and monitored by the MHYPD to prevent illicit activity. Receptacles are securely fastened to prevent unauthorized removal, and locked to prevent unauthorized retrieval of their contents.


Mercy Health Medication Disposal Drop Box locations are accessible 24/7/365 and include:


St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital | 1044 Belmont Ave., Youngstown

Box is located in the Emergency Department, in the public entrance/lobby area

St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital | 8401 Market St., Boardman

Box is located in the Emergency Department, in the public entrance/lobby area near reception

St. Joseph Warren Hospital | 627 Eastland Ave., Warren

Box is located in the Emergency Department, in the public entrance/lobby area near reception


“Mercy Health is committed to making our community a healthier place to live and work,” Homick said. “The opiate epidemic is a public health crisis, and we’re committed to addressing it – head on. Our Medication Disposal Drop Boxes are just one way we’re doing that.”


About Mercy Health

Mercy Health - Youngstown is an integrated health system in the Mahoning Valley, which encompasses the Youngstown/Warren metropolitan area – Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio. It is part of Mercy Health, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and is the largest health system in Ohio and one of the largest Catholic health systems in the United States. Mercy Health - Youngstown provides a full spectrum of healthcare services – acute inpatient and trauma, outpatient and ambulatory, rehabilitation, behavioral, emergency and urgent care, primary care physicians in patient-centered medical homes, specialist physician care, home health, home medical equipment, long-term care and hospice care, as well as Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley. Learn more at