Unwanted? Expired? It's no problem as animal shelters accept donated medical supplies
The syringes, gauze pads and tracheotomy tubes were piling up, and some of them were marked expired.
In many hospitals and clinics, they would have ended up in a dumpster. But late last year, Delaware County Emergency Medical Services Lt. Jess Paqari had a different idea — donate them to the local humane society.
"She came to me asked if we could do this," said Jeff Fishel, EMS director, who had previously worked in California, Texas and Oklahoma, where expired or unwanted medical gear and pharmaceuticals were routinely donated for animal use. "I told her, 'Sure.' "
The monetary value of the items in several overfilled duffel bags would easily be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars if new, officials said.
Sterile gauze pads and syringes, breathing tubes, plastic gowns and gloves all are useful at shelters that house and foster unwanted, sick or injured animals, said Debra Leckrone, volunteer coordinator and community outreach manager at the Humane Society of Delaware County.
"Anything that we can get donated that saves us money helps us know that the funding we have goes where it's needed — toward the animals," she said.
In many states, even human pharmaceuticals can be administered to animals by reducing the dosage. But in Ohio, even non-active drugs, such as saline solution, are prohibited from sale or donation, according to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy.
"There's not a pathway to donate them except to a school or pharmacy for teaching purposes but not necessarily for treatment," said Cameron McNamee, director of policy and communications.
And not everything that can be donated is always useful. In the recent donation, some splints were too large for animal bones, and there were burn dressings not suitable for furry animals.
There's certainly a need.
Surgeries to spay and neuter animals and other treatments can be costly, and in Delaware, the shelter took in 1,906 dogs, cats, guinea pigs and other critters last year, with 93% of them eventually adopted. The remainder are housed in the shelter or foster homes until they find owners, Leckrone said.
Other shelters are grateful for donated items, too.
"We're totally on board with hand-me-downs," said Corey Schoonover, executive director of the Fairfield Area Humane Society. "It definitely defrays the costs."
Fairfield Medical Center personnel bring in boxes and bags of supplies, leaving it to humane society staff to "sort what we can use for surgery," he said.
"We even have local hotels that are changing out sheets and towels," Schoonover said, noting their value for use in bedding and cleaning.
He is cautious about some of the cast-offs. One shipment of three cases of donated cleaner wasn't appropriate for use around animals, for example.
"(It was) super corrosive, and how you dispose of it was a nightmare," he said. "We had to return that."
In Franklin County, Columbus Humane also gets help, said Brittany Thomas, director of marketing.
"We do receive medical supplies occasionally, like PPE (personal protective equipment), but it is fairly minimal, from various clinics, practices, etc.," she said in an email response.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Donated medical supplies meant for humans a boon to animal shelters