Former Leavenworth High School State wrestling champion Rick Dickerson is making Leavenworth proud again as his committed research and planning for a way to safely dispose of medications comes to fruition.

By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com


Former Leavenworth High School State wrestling champion Rick Dickerson is making Leavenworth proud again as his committed research and planning for a way to safely dispose of medications comes to fruition.
After graduation he had envisioned becoming an Olympic wrestler with the hope of becoming a collegiate coach. “A marriage and two kids later, that dream was cut short — plus I wasn't Olympic quality,” says Rick.
But now, as the new president of Stat-Medicament-Disposal Corporation, he and CEO Larry Kenemore Jr. are making a difference in a field that holds one of the most vital keys to the future health and safety of people across the U.S.

The company is addressing the pollution that comes from pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications that end up in our drinking water and soil. Stat-Medicament Disposal Corporation won the 2017 FED EX New Green Business of the Year award last year.
Rick’s tireless research and planning have helped bring about the invention of a small bottle that fits inside your medicine cabinet and holds 60 old, or no longer needed pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter medication and vitamins and safely destroys them in the bottle. The bottle can then be sent off for burning to safely generate electricity.


The bottles contain a ready-to-use chemical digestion solution and charcoal and when the bottle is shaken the drugs dissolve on contact permitting the active medication to be absorbed and neutralized by the active charcoal ingredients. The meds permanently bond to the activated charcoal and the process to release medication is subsequently irreversible. When the bottles are sent back to the company for disposal they are incinerated at no risk to the environment to generate electricity and qualify for carbon credits on destruction, something not offered by any other program.


The company provides pre-addressed, pre-paid postage envelopes to ship the drugs for incineration. The process provides an easy alternative to most drug take-back programs which require driving to a facility for drop-off. It also ensures that drugs flushed down toilets or thrown into sinks and trash bags don’t end up in landfills, where they can contaminate soil and water.

 
Rick has spent many a sleepless night researching, tweaking and perfecting the system.
“We had the idea for years, and the Brita water filters opened a few eyes,” says Rick. “There's a lot more to it than that, but we researched how it works, with tweaks we put into it. To say it was hard to sleep is an understatement. I used to stay up if I was in the middle of something because I found that if I stopped, I had trouble picking up where I left off. Having to get up for my regular job at 5 a.m. made it hard as well. I'd go into the office early to do research or read what I could. There were so many printed pages and zip drives that it was hectic at times to keep things separate. Once I got a routine, things got so much easier.”
Rick has worked for many companies, including General Motors Acceptance Corporation where he ran field audits on car dealerships as well as being a field collector on past due auto loans.


“This led to becoming a collector at a major bank, and it's there I realized I had to do something for myself,” says Rick. This led to being a cab driver for four years, but my calling was for collections, which I went back to and did quite well.
Later, I got my present job at FUJIFILM and am still there 15 years later.
Stat-Medicament Disposal Corporation has given me the opportunity to do something from the ground up and watch it grow.” 


Rick's daughter AnneMarie Figiel Dickerson has now joined her dad at Stat-Medicament Disposal and its three affiliates as the corporate secretary.


The company was founded by Kevin and Kim Walker.  Kim is an international tax lawyer in California and Kevin is in the music and recording industry. They are both passionate about the environment and want to ensure that drinking water is clean and safe.


The company has been incorporated since 2014.  Its goal is to help the Drug Enforcement Administration to reduce drug diversion by keeping medications out of the wrong hands, diminish accidental poisoning and decrease illicit drug activities. There are now take-back programs in New York and California and Rick is working on getting cities in Kansas and Arkansas set up for the program.


Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays is a growing problem, according to Scientific American. Millions of us are flushing unused medications down the toilet and discharging them in our body waste—even though sewage treatment plants and septic systems were never designed to deal with such contaminants. Additional discharges by healthcare facilities exacerbate the problem. As a result, researchers have identified traces of pharmaceutical drugs in the drinking water supplies of some 40 million Americans.


Rick and Larry are committed to changing how drugs are disposed of.
“I have to emphasize the major role Larry has played,” says Rick. He has devoted so much time and effort. I do a lot of the research and planning, etc. but without Larry and his patent knowledge we would still be in the planning stages.”


The company’s process is a win-win for everyone involved.   
Bottles are assembled by developmentally disabled people, homeless people and individuals who were recently released from prisons. “Since we're a woman/minority-owned business, we decided to explore other options available to us,” says Rick. “The workers are anxious to work, dependable, and are willing to learn.” 
The company won the 2017 Outstanding Green Business Award from SBA/SCORE. SCORE is a network of retired executives that mentor start-up operations free of charge.
“In the video that SCORE produced for us I said, ‘I am concerned about the future of our children and grandchildren and it is the ultimate children’s issue today,’” says Larry. “Just think that every child in America today is drinking blood pressure medications, Tylenol, morphine etc.   Even bottled water contains these items and there is no known process to remove them.”


When Rick and Larry began working together they both were well aware that water was a health hazard. When people would tell them that they drank ‘pure’ water, Rick and Larry would say, “What does that mean?”
“Your drinking water in every city in the U.S. is polluted with a minimum of 50 pharmaceuticals-OTC medication and vitamins,” says Larry. “They are not regulated by the EPA or the government because there is no known process to remove them. Our company contracts with whole cities to place a bottle in every home. The bottles are barcoded to an address/location so that when they are returned we weigh them and create a database of the actual items destroyed by street-area-city-county. If you go to our website you will see a number of videos from the EPA showing what is in your drinking water and why you should be concerned.  Stat-Medicament-Disposal Corporation website.”


“Rick has been involved with me in research and development since 2008 when I started on this journey of recycling,” says Larry.   
“He has supported me in so many ways over the years I could not even count.” 
Rick says the Environmental Protection Agency is testing for drug-infested water in cities, but not to the more thorough standards of Stat-Medicament-Disposal Corporation.


“We show the cities our test results when we give a presentation and they're shocked to say the least,” says Rick. “They acknowledge the results, but admit it would be cost-prohibitive to do what needs to be done with the water and distill it. We have partnered with a company called AquaNui and they sell distilling machines. That's another avenue we are trying to educate the public on as well. We want to put a bottle in every house in every city, at no cost to the citizens. Government grants are available and with the cities assisting, we could bring this to fruition.”