Grant County needle exchange program showing success after first year of operation

03/23/2017 04:36 PM

DRY RIDGE – The Grant County Syringe Access Exchange Program has been in existence for one year and health officials say that so far, the program has been a resounding success.

Under the program, addicts bring in their dirty needles to the Grant County office on Wednesday’s between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 pm, as well as other days and times by appointment. Addicts receive clean needles at that time in an attempt to eliminate the sharing of needles, which could lead to an outbreak of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

The first year saw 130 participants, with 63 of those visiting two times or more.

The program also works to reduce the risk of diseases spreading as 39 tests were administered for Hepatitis C, pregnancy, HIV, and other STD’s, with 17 vaccines provided.

In addition, 148 naloxone overdose reversal kits were distributed with 11 documented lives saved.

The program also has acted as a connection to treatments with 59 referrals for addictions treatment leading to 15 people verified to have entered a detox program.

District Director of Health at the Northern Kentucky Health Department Lynne Saddler says the first year has netted better results than expected.

Saddler believes that although the program has been a success, it isn’t necessarily reflected in the drug use statistics for the area.

“It’s only been a year and it takes time for these types of programs to build up enough of a clientele to make a significant impact in our region,” Saddler said.

Saddler credits the Grant County programs success with the facts that addicts who are becoming aware of the program are letting other addicts know about it.

“There’s always some people who are brave enough to give it a try, and they come and they realize that we are not there to judge, we are there to try to address their healthcare needs and hopefully get them on a better pathway by referrals to treatment services,” Saddler said.

With the success of the Grant County program, Saddler would like to see more exchanges throughout the region, but she says that will take time.

“We have spent the last year doing a lot of educating and advocating,” Saddler said. “We have been able to demonstrate that we can successfully operate these programs out of our health centers and we will just keep going ahead with trying to get approvals to be able to cover all of northern Kentucky.”

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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