Joelle Mbamy (right), owner of Sunrise Pharmacy, and her daughter Donna Mbamy-Conci created a program that sees five cents given back for every used needle brought to the pharmacy for proper disposal. Kristi Patton/Western News

Okanagan pharmacy buying back used needles

Sunrise Pharmacy gives five cents for every used needle returned

A used needle return program set up in a downtown Penticton pharmacy was created out of compassion for those addicted to drugs and with the hope to keep the city protected.

Joelle Mbamy, owner of Sunrise Pharmacy (located at 749 Main St.), said they are offering five cents for every used needle brought into their pharmacy so they can safely transport them to Interior Health to be disposed of.

Just six days into the program, Mbamy estimates there have been over 1,000 used needles turned in.

“It has been very successful. The response has been phenomenal. Everyone is very respectful and all of the needles are coming in packaged and secured in the sharp containers so there is no risk of cross-contamination for us and for them,” said the pharmacy owner’s daughter and pharmacy assistant Donna Mbamy-Conci.

Sunrise is also offering people larger containers to ensure they are collected safely. On Tuesday one person returned over 100 needles and the same person had another 500 counted out from the area known as the Hobo Trails near Okanagan Lake. Wednesday morning another 100 were brought in.

“Not only can people using the needles take responsibility but they are also learning about the implications of someone getting poked with a needle and how they can stop a child playing in the grass or sand from getting infected with HIV or (hepatitis) C by bringing the used needles in to be properly disposed of instead of tossing them aside,” said Mbamy-Conci.

Related: Sharps disposal containers set to go up around Penticton

Through the Sunrise Smiles Foundation, a non-profit that the pharmacy established, they can pay for the needle returns at the pharmacy. They also host a pancake breakfast for those need on Saturdays.

Besides the hand-written poster clinging to a sandwich board in front of the pharmacy, Sunrise hasn’t advertised the needle return program. Word has travelled fast though, evident in the call they received from a group in Kamloops that runs something similar and is now hoping to connect with Sunrise to share information.

“Various communities are now coming together to come up with formulate a solution that is effective and reducing that stigma. Overall we just want to make sure everyone is safe,” said Mbamy-Conci. “We might not be able to change the world, but we can change one person at a time. Everyday we try and impact one person’s life and I think we have been successful at that.”


Kristi Patton | Editor

KristiPatton

Send Kristi Patton an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UBC Okanagan professor tasked with increasing diversity in science

Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology names new associate chair

West Kelowna begin flushing Lakeview Water System

Water service will not be interrupted but boil water notices will be in effect

Prospera Place gives credit union members a break on parking

Prospera Credit Union members will receive $2 off event parking

Growing Okanagan tech sector hailed in new report

Study shows sector employees 12, 474 workers and is worth $1.67 billion to regional economy

Kelowna mayoral candidates clash over Costco location

A tale of two mayoral candidates, and a Costco

Pavement Patty slows drivers near Rutland Elementary

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Dozens line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

Penticton’s Wills Hodgkinson helping raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

First Nations block roads to stop the moose hunt in B.C.’s Interior

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

Most Read