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Public Safety

The safety of our patients, employees and community members is of utmost importance to us. This requires concerted efforts from all members of our team, and we are dedicated to providing tools and resources to enhance safety and security at our facilities and in our communities. This includes providing information about emergency preparedness both at Lakewood, as well as in your home, and the safe disposal of needles, syringes and unwanted medications.

In an effort to maintain emergency preparedness, Lakewood Health System completes monthly code drills in lieu of real events like severe weather, evacuations, missing persons, trauma, security threats and fire.

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Lakewood Health System is an active member of the Central Minnesota Healthcare System Preparedness Program (CMHSPP). The CMHSPP’s mission is to assist regional hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities in their planning and response to potential healthcare disasters. The program’s funding and guidance is provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services through the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Lakewood also collaborates with Todd and Wadena counties and the City of Staples in preparedness planning and response.


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Always call 911 first, in case of an emergency!


Our Main and Senior Campus facilities are designated severe weather shelters for our surrounding communities and neighborhoods. If you are experiencing bad weather – either at home or on the road – and do not feel safe, please do not hesitate to seek shelter at Lakewood Health System.

Disposal of unused/unwanted medications

Expired or unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications from households have traditionally been disposed of by flushing them down the toilet or a drain. Although this method of disposal prevents immediate accidental ingestion, it can cause pollution in wastewater, which has been demonstrated to cause adverse effects on fish and other aquatic wildlife. When the water is eventually reused, it can also cause unintentional human exposure to chemicals in medications.

To properly dispose of medications, follow these tips before you toss them in the trash.

  1. Keep the medication in its original container. The labels may contain safety information and the caps are typically childproof. Leaving the content information clearly visible, scratch the patient’s name out or cover it over with permanent marker.
  2. Modify the medications to discourage consumption. For solid medications such as pills or capsules: add a small amount of water to at least partially dissolve them.  For liquid medications: add enough table salt, flour, charcoal or non-toxic powdered spice, such as turmeric or mustard to make a pungent, unsightly mixture that discourages anyone from eating it. For blister packs: wrap the blister packages containing pills in multiple layers of duct or other opaque tape.
  3. Seal and conceal. Tape the medication container shut with packing or duct tape and place it inside a non-transparent bag or container such as an empty yogurt or margarine tub to ensure that the contents cannot be seen. Do not conceal medicines in food products because they could be inadvertently consumed by wildlife scavengers.
  4. Discard the container in your garbage can. Do not place it in the recycling bin.

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Safe disposal for needles and syringes

It is important to manage and dispose of needles, lancets and syringes (sharps) safely to prevent injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks. Never leave needles or syringes on streets, in parks, or anywhere else where someone could get injured.

Storage of destructive sharps

  • Store at home: purchase a sharps disposal container from a pharmacy or get an empty laundry bottle with a screw on lid. Do not store used sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans or coffee cans. Always keep storage containers for used sharps out of the reach of children.
  • Destroy at home: Devices or containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles are called sharps needle destruction devices.
  • A destruction device that incinerates needles and lancets can be used at home to destroy sharps immediately after use. They use a few seconds of high heat to melt needles and reduce them to BB-size balls. Previously used only in healthcare facilities, these devices are now available in smaller, less expensive models for home use. Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container).
  • A needle cutter that automatically stores the cut needles is also useful while away from home when a disposal container is not available. A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.

Disposal options

Never place containers with used needles or syringes in a recycling bin or loose sharps in the garbage. Use one of the following options to dispose of the used needles, lancets, and syringes:

  • Home Needle-destruction Devices Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container). A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.
  • Mail-back Programs Mail-back disposal programs allow home sharps users to mail used sharps to licensed disposal facilities as a safe disposal option. There is a fee charged for this service. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet using keywords “sharps mailback.”
  • Households can put used sharps in a labeled laundry detergent bottle to safely dispose of them. However, these containers must be brought by the household to the local transfer station or county landfill. They cannot be placed in the garbage for regular pick up. This will prevent injury and health risks placed on those who might come in contact with the sharps.

*Information collected from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Your business has unique safety and health needs. Lakewood Health System offers services at your work-site to:

  • Meet federal and Minnesota OSHA regulations
  • Assist with work comp insurance
  • Keep your valuable employees in the job and reduce lost time

Work-site health services available from Lakewood Health System include:

  • Return to work/modified job recommendations for work related injury
  • Drug and alcohol testing and supervisor training
  • Hearing (audiometric) testing and education
  • Pre-employment assessments
  • HAZMAT assessments
  • Respirator fit testing
  • CPR and first aid training
  • OSHA education to meet federal and Minnesota regulations

Special health programs:

  • Health fairs – customized for your business
  • Body compositions
  • Seated massage