Boyle syringe exchange could open in January

Published 5:28 pm Saturday, December 3, 2016

Boyle County’s syringe exchange program could be open by early January.

“We are getting close,” Boyle County Health Department director Brent Blevins said. 

On Dec. 16, lead nurse Vickie Vernon will attend a training in Lexington, and once she returns, Blevins said a meeting will take place that will hopefully help get the program up and running around the first of the year. 

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“Part of that is because the health department is closed two Fridays in a row with the holidays, so probably around the first of the year, we will get that going,” he said. 

The health department and the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) will fund the exchange with most of a recently awarded $20,000 grant from Kentucky ASAP. The health department will use $15,000 of the grant to pay for the supplies and other materials needed. 

The grant, however, does not support salaries, Blevins said.

“What we are going to do to start the program is the board of health agreed to just go ahead and lets fund that to get started and to get our feet under us, and probably what we will do later on in the spring or later in the winter, is catch up the city and county and talk to them a little bit more about budgets and see if there is a way to do that,” he said. 

Blevins said they’ve already ordered supplies for the exchange.

“We’ve just got to do a little training for the people that will be involved and get started and see how we do,” he said. 

The program will allow injection drug users to exchange used syringes for clean ones, with the goals of stopping the spread of disease and helping drug users find rehabilitation options.

When the needle exchange program starts, it will be held in the basement of the Boyle County Health Department on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m.

In addition to the exchange program, Ephraim McDowell Medical Center has partnered with the health department.

Blevins has previously told The Advocate-Messenger that for those who come into the emergency room and are injection drug users, the hospital will give them clean needles, but will refer them to the program at the health department.