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Needle exchange program to begin Jan. 13 at Health Dept.

After several months of preparing for the syringe exchange program in Boyle County, the program will officially start next month.  

Boyle County Health Department Director Brent Blevins said it will begin on Friday, Jan. 13. The program will run from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday afternoons in the basement of the health department.   

Right now, the health department is still purchasing the supplies needed for the program, completing paperwork and finishing staff training, Blevins said.  

The lead nurse at the health department, Vickie Vernon — who will be the staff nurse for the program —  attended a training in Lexington on Dec. 16.

“We’ve just got to do a little training for the people that will be involved and get started and see how we do,” Blevins previously 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, but it does not cover salaries.  

“What we are going to do to start the program is the board of health agreed to just go ahead and let’s 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,” Blevins previously 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 users find rehabilitation options.

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

Blevins 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 then refer them to the program at the health department.