Recently, the city and Southwest Health System staff sat down to work out the final details for marketing a countywide Family Sharps Disposal Program.
“Sharps” is the medical term for hypodermic needles. Many of us have health conditions requiring the use of injectable medications – diabetes, blood disorders, fertility issues – and the improper disposal of these needles can have serious consequences for those accidentally coming in contact with them.
Rarely do most of us give much thought to what we toss in our garbage cans, and in most cases, that’s OK. Used needles, however, require special handling.
In recent months, two of the city’s refuse collectors received needle sticks resulting in months of stress as they endured repeated testing to be sure they had not contracted a serious illness as the result of the needle stick. Workers at the county landfill are also at risk.
When the hospital administration was approached about this issue, they were very open and responsive to seeing what could be done to address the problem. In short order, staff came up with a plan and agreed to partner with the city.
The Family Sharps Disposal Program is being offered by Southwest Health System free of charge to the public. To participate, pick up a container at the hospital pharmacy located in the new professional medical building, 1311A N. Mildred Road. The retail pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cortez trash customers may request that a sharps disposal container be delivered to their homes. Please call the Cortez Service Center at 970-565-7320 and staff will arrange for delivery. Each container is easy to use and securely holds about 100 used syringes with needles. When full, simply return to the hospital pharmacy. You will be provided with a new container and the old one will be disposed of properly.
Do not put used needles in your trash.
To kick off the program, containers and informational cards will be on display at City Hall, the Recreation Center and the Cortez Public Library. The city is providing all the local pharmacies and medical offices with cards they can share with their patients explaining how the program works and encouraging them to participate. It’s free, it’s easy and, most importantly, it will help keep our refuse workers and landfill staff safe. If you have additional questions regarding the program, contact the Southwest Memorial Hospital pharmacy at 564-2280.
The Bridge ShelterI recently had the opportunity to tour The Bridge Shelter’s new facilities. It is a beautiful addition to our community, and I am so proud and awed by what a determined board and group of local citizens have wrought! Not only will this new facility provide a safe place on cold winter nights for the homeless in our community, but it is the only one in the state of Colorado that houses a shelter, day-labor center and transitional apartments all under one roof.
It has been the dream of the shelter’s executive director, Laurie Knutson, to do more than put a Band-Aid on homelessness. Her long-range goal has been to help clients pull themselves out of homelessness and become fully participating members of the community.
The transitional apartments will help with this goal. Up to 26 formerly homeless people can be accommodated in one- and two-bedroom apartments. Clients may rent an apartment for up to six months as they stabilize their lives, and the rent income will help offset some of the shelter’s overhead. The Bridge will be hosting an open house on Oct. 19, and I encourage everyone to stop by to see what vision and dedication can accomplish so that “the night sky may find us all warm, fed, sheltered and loved.”
See the colorsFall has arrived, and as one drives around town, there is evidence of the change in seasons, with splashes of red, orange and yellow foliage. The trees in the 7th Street medians are especially beautiful right now.
I love this time of year, with cooler days and crisp nights, spectacular sunsets and stunning colors. Take some time to drive, walk or bicycle around the city, pausing to enjoy the season. Go by Parque de Vida in the morning to catch the rainbows created by the sprinklers; drive past the soccer fields in the early evenings as flocks of enthusiastic kiddos kick soccer balls down the field; check out the two water features in adjoining city parks, surrounded by beautiful trees and green fields that beckon one to walk through the grass barefooted.
If you’re out after dark, drive by the Osprey campus. Did you know the logo on the west side of the building is lighted at night? It’s impressive, and the security lighting at The Bridge, county courthouse and hospital creates a play of shadows and light that emphasizes the architectural features of the buildings and surrounding landscaping.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to winter, which I know isn’t far behind, but right now, I’m enjoying this season and am thankful that I live in this beautiful little city in southwest Colorado.
Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by Cortez City Council members. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or during her office hours from 12:30-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.