Medication Takeback Day - Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital
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Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital


Medication Takeback Day

Hines suicide prevention lead

Lead suicide prevention coordinator, Anita Carmona Caravelli, explained why getting unused, unwanted and expired medications out of the house is an important step in preventing suicide.

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Veterans, volunteers, community partners and hospital staff were on hand today to participate in a medication takeback day to help reduce lethal means and raise awareness for suicide prevention. 

emptying medication in collection bin

Limit & Secure Access Because Means Matters

Having the lethal means to complete suicide can be the difference between life and death. In fact, 90 percent of attempters who survive do not go on to die by suicide. Removing means and delaying attempts is often enough to overcome a short-term crisis, which is when many suicide attempts occur.

Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital is encouraging Veterans, employees, volunteers and our community partners to help remove means by disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs in a safe, convenient and responsible way.

On Thursday, January 24, 2019 Hines VA will be accepting medications in Building 1, F-Lobby from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., with a program featuring hospital leadership and the Hines VA’s Suicide Prevention Coordinators taking place at 12:30 p.m.

“Studies show that means matters. When lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline,” said Tom Nutter, M.D., Chief of Hines Mental Health Service. “Getting unnecessary narcotics and other medicines out of the home and putting gun locks on firearms really can make a difference. We all have a responsibility to do our part, and these are simple steps that we can take to help save lives.”

Hines Mental Health lead, Tom Nutter, M.D. speaking at event

Veterans can also bring medication to any one of the Hines community-based outpatient clinics in Aurora, Hoffman Estates, Joliet, Kankakee, LaSalle or Oak Lawn. Hines will announce additional takeback days that will be promoted throughout the year, but know that every day is a takeback day at Hines.

VA’s suicide prevention efforts are guided by the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, a long-term plan published in 2018 that looks beyond the individual to involve peers, family members and communities to help solve the crisis.

Hines VA engages the community in several ways, including outreach events and collaboration

with VSOs and other community partners. Hines provides educational materials and gun locks that can be distributed to whoever needs them at gun ranges and retailers.

“Of the 20 Veterans who take their own lives each day, only six are receiving care through VA, said Steven Braverman, M.D., Hines VA Hospital director. “Suicide rates are higher for Veterans who don’t use VA services. We need to expand the work we do with community partners, Veterans Service Organizations, the state, county and local municipalities.”

Hines VA Hospital Director, Steven Braverman, M.D. addressing veterans and staff

VA has taken targeted actions with real results to prevent Veteran suicide, including the following:

• VA now provides mental health care in emergency situations for up to 90 days for Veterans with other than honorable discharges.

• VA is using innovative screening and assessment programs to identify at-risk Veterans. VA leads the way in providing access to mental health through TeleHealth appointments and recently announced partnerships with Walmart, Philips and T-Mobile to expand that access.

• A recent Dartmouth study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that on key quality measures, VA hospitals outperform private hospitals in most health care markets throughout the country.

• Just last week, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study showing that VA significantly reduced wait times for Veteran patients in primary care and three specialty care services between 2014 and 2017 with VA wait times for new appointments equal to or better than those in private sector.

• Hines will hold quarterly Medication Takeback Days here at Hines and is making mail-in options available from our community-based clinics.

• We expect to announce more community partnerships to better serve our Veterans.

Hines VA will have Suicide Prevention Coordinators on hand providing information about suicide prevention, items with the VA Crisis Hotline number and website, and free gun locks.

Talking about suicide prevention can be difficult, but being there for Veterans and service members isn’t. Learn all the ways you can #BeThere for someone who’s going through a difficult time: If you need help, or know someone who does, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255, and press 1. Suicide prevention: it’s everyone’s business.


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