Last updated: October 14. 2013 12:01PM - 1428 Views

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Operation Medicine Drop will occur on Oct. 26 at Biggs Park Mall. This is an opportunity for residents to dispose of unused medicine.

The problems associated with prescription drug overdose and usage in this county have been well-documented. More than that, as Tom Norton of Palmer Prevention relates, middle school students’ entry into the substance-use world is no longer alcohol or marijuana — it is prescription pills. Unfortunately, many of these pills are taken from parents or grandparents who acquired them legally, so getting rid of unused pills is for the benefit of all.

This event has proven to be very successful in the past. On March 23, there were 22,952 pills turned in. On Sept. 29, there were 29,153 and on March 24, 2012, there were 26,702. You would have to think that taking over 78,000 pills out of the available inventory in one year would have to have a positive effect.

As we head into week two of the governmental shutdown, a question is often asked about the impact. There are instantaneous events, such as furloughing federal workers, but some programs take longer to have a negative effect.

For instance, one grant we have will not be released by the state because the federal money was not included. However, when it is eventually received it will be for the full amount. Other programs have a mix of state, federal and local funding — which includes many of our clinic activities — so fallout will not be seen until down the road when state and local resources are exhausted.

Another area is WIC, which receives no local funding. In addition to administrative and nutritional education costs to pay staff, vouchers are being redeemed to acquire healthy food for pregnant and post-partum women, infants and children. These vendors are expecting payment and well they should.

The current state administration has declared they will allow no state dollars to cover any federal shortfalls, which equates to state employees being laid off. Locally, our commissioners have shown much more concern for the ramifications on county employees and will help as possible, particularly if federal dollars are promised.

There are many other areas impacted. Child care subsidies, transportation, education and agriculture all have federal dollars flowing in. Because any solution appears to be a one-year solution, provided there is a solution, we all may be right back here next year and the cycle will continue.

I remember a time when a federal budget was passed timely instead of a continuing resolution that Band-Aids the country for a period of time. As a reminder, the federal fiscal year was moved in 1976 from July 1 to Oct. 1 to allow three months of additional consideration. Somehow we have strayed mightily from this intent.

Bill Smith is the Robeson County Health director.

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