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What To Do With Those Unused Medical Supplies?

What To Do With Those Unused Medical Supplies? Medicines and Medical Supplies Pattern by sea martini on
Medicines and medical supplies pattern by sea martini on
When I was going through treatment for breast cancer, I was able to access home health care services through the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). There were a few times my husband had to call and have a nurse come out to the house to administer additional anti-nausea meds, and to treat me for dehydration. Each time they showed up at our house, they brought supplies…lots of them…boxes full…syringes, needles, alcohol wipes, saline solution, Sharps disposal containers for used needles.

At the end of my treatments, I had barely used any of the supplies. I called CCAC and the home care service companies they contract and no one would take the unused supplies back even if they were unopened and still in sealed packages. I understand it’s for healthy and safety reasons, but still if they are sealed, would it not be okay?

So they sat in our bedroom for a good year after I was done my treatments. I didn’t want to throw them away. What a waste that would be. I finally got the number of Doctors Without Borders. They took the supplies to use in third world countries. I was glad they were going to good use.

It made me stop and think if I had all these unused medical supplies, then probably most CCAC clients have a similar stockpile of supplies. I understand the thought process behind the health care providers bringing more than they need…better safe than sorry…and not having to lug around supplies every time they visit a client.

My sister works for CCAC as a Care Coordinator. I hear about all the cutbacks due to funding shortages. Budget cuts always seem to hit the front line workers the hardest making it difficult to service the ever-growing population of people who require home care. It seems to me there are dollars to be saved on medical supplies. I realize that medical supplies is probably not a huge line item in their overall budget but still it adds up. There must be a better way to dispense supplies so there is less waste.

Here is a CBC News article from November 2016 on this very topic - Unused medical supplies piling up in Eastern Ontario patients’ homes. Click on: Jean-Marc Poey is surrounded by some of the unused medical supplies that crowd his Rockland, Ont. condo.Jean-Marc Poey is surrounded by some of the unused medical supplies that crowd his Rockland, Ont. condo. (Simon Gardner/CBC)

The CCAC is soon to be taken over by the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). Will they do a better job of controlling the medical supplies? Hmmm…time will tell…

In the meantime, if you have unused and unopened medical supplies that you no longer need, here are a few organizations that will take them off your hands and put them to good use.

Not Just Tourists - To donate medical supplies, click on: Not Just Tourists  

Ottawa Inner City Health - Accepts donations of sealed medical supplies, click on: Ottawa Inner City Health

If you know of any other organizations that accept donations of unused medical supplies, please add them in the comments and I will update this list.

Updates to the List:

  1. Local Animal Shelters and Wild Bird Centres
  2. For the Needy Not the Greedy
  3. CACHA (Canada Africa Community Health Alliance)
  4. Osagyefo Memorial Clinic in Bakanta, a fishing community in the western region of Ghana. Contact Elizabeth Vaah at or 647-782-6202

Colleen Kanna is a breast cancer champion and creator of coKANna designs, a line of bamboo knit, Canadian-made adaptive clothing for women touched by breast cancer. 




  • Kevin

    International Hope Canada, a registered Canadian charity, based out of Winnipeg, collects medical equipment and supplies for distribution to impoverished countries. It has shipped nearly 90 sea-containers in the last few years.

  • Elizabeth Vaah

    I am travelling to Ghana this December. We have adopted a small community clinic in Bakanta, a fishing community in the western region of Ghana called Osagyefo Memorial Clinic. If you have unused, sealed medical supplies we can take them to help this clinic support the community. Thank you

  • Colleen

    For the Needy Not the Greedy in Niagara Falls accepts donations of medical supplies and equipment. Thank you, Heather!

  • Colleen

    Christine, great information. I had not thought of local animal shelters and wild bird centres. Thank you.

  • Christine

    Not Just Tourists groups across Canada will take many medical supplies. Here is information about the group in Ottawa: I also called local animal shelters and the wild bird centre as they can use some of the supplies.

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