The program’s mobile unit, provided by the Kentucky Fire Commission, will be parked at St. Elizabeth locations in Newport and Covington.
In February the Newport City Commission approved the mobile unit to be located in Newport at 1400 N. Grand Avenue after the Campbell County Fiscal Court approved the exchange in May of 2016. The Fiscal Court preferred the exchange be situated at the county building on Monmouth Street, but the Newport City Commission preferred a mobile unit on St. E's Newport campus, which sits a few hundred yards away from the Fort Thomas-Newport border.
RELATED: Campbell County Fiscal Court Approves Needle Exchange
At the exchanges, Health Department nurses will provide sterile equipment in exchange for used equipment, naloxone overdose reversal kits, rapid HIV tests and referrals for other health care services including substance abuse treatment.
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The public can tour the mobile unit at open houses scheduled from 2 – 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17 at that location.
The goal of syringe access exchange programs is to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by eliminating the sharing of used needles and syringes that occurs with intravenous drug use. Individuals who use IV drugs will receive sterile needles and syringes when they turn in used equipment. This helps remove contaminated needles and syringes from being improperly discarded in the community.
“Syringe access exchange programs in Newport and Covington are important steps forward in helping us stop the spread of infections such as HIV and hepatitis C,” said Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at NKY Health. “We are grateful to St. Elizabeth and to the Kentucky Fire Commission for partnering with us on this urgent public health matter. Their generosity means that those in need of these important and often life-saving services will have easier access to our syringe access exchange program.”
“We are committed to doing everything we can to help reduce the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases in our community,” said Garren Colvin, President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “We have seen tremendous success in the Grant County syringe exchange program, and we know firsthand that these programs work. With the addition of these two new mobile unit programs, and with our community’s combined efforts to manage disease, we will be able to reduce the number of individuals who contract infectious diseases, and we will help our community overcome its fears and anxieties about critical health programs such as these.”
NKY Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kentucky Department for Public Health to investigate an unusually high number of HIV cases among people with IV drug use as a risk factor in Campbell and Kenton counties. Northern Kentucky also continues to have some of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the country.
The Newport and Covington programs will be two of more than 40 syringe access exchange programs operating in Kentucky. NKY Health also operates a comprehensive syringe access exchange program at its Grant County Health Center in Williamstown, Kentucky, now in its third year.
The syringe access exchange programs in Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties are supported in part through a start-up grant from the RC Durr Foundation.