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In reference to last week’s article Addressing an ‘Epidemic.’

Syringe exchange is one of our county’s least understood, and therefore controversial, programs. That is why we find it necessary to correct and clarify some key points of last week’s article.

To clarify data sources stated in the previous article, Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) does not collect specific crime lab cases involving opiates or opioid mortality.

To clarify the statements made in the previous article about Naloxone availability in Eastern Washington, Naloxone is available in more than three locations in Eastern Washington. Places near Ellensburg that offer Naloxone include KCPHD, Ellensburg Never Share Syringe Exchange, Cle Elum Public Health Outreach Unit, Yakima Health District, and Grant County Syringe Exchange. Many retail store pharmacies offer Naloxone, as well, but may need to be purchased. Naloxone can also be found in other areas in Eastern Washington including Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, and Spokane, to name a few. You can visit http://stopoverdose.org/section/find-naloxone-near-you/, enter your zip code, and a list of nearby locations that offer Naloxone will appear for you to choose from.

Syringe exchange is a form of a harm reduction, which aims to reduce the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, as well as reduce the amount of used syringes that community members may possibly be exposed to. To correct the statements regarding harm reduction and treatment in the previous article, harm reduction understands that some people may not be ready, or may never be ready, for treatment, but that treatment is always a possible and welcomed outcome. KCPHD’s syringe exchange program will always support and encourage people to seek out treatment options when they feel ready. Ellensburg Never Share Syringe Exchange and the Cle Elum Public Health Outreach Unit have resources available for people who are interested in treatment and staff members are always there to help and discuss options available to interested people.

There are multiple funding sources that make syringe exchange possible in Kittitas County. To purchase supplies, we use funds from Washington State Department of Health that the Washington State legislature specifically budgeted for the purchase of syringe/harm reduction supplies. Another source of funding is the Local Solid Waste Financial Assistance Grant from the Department of Ecology, which provides funds that are used specifically for sharps disposal enforcement education. To correct the statements regarding funding in the previous article, it should be noted that most Public Health programs and services, including syringe exchange, are paid for by local, state, and/or federal public funds. For the Cle Elum Public Health Outreach Unit, staff time that is not covered by grant funds is supplemented by some County Admissions tax, although there is no specific tax imposed on the residents of Kittitas County for syringe services.

To clarify the schedule of services offered, you can find these on the Public Health website or call the Public Health Office. Listed below are the services offered in Kittitas County:

Naloxone is always available at the Kittitas County Public Health Office.

Ellensburg Never Share Syringe Exchange is every Thursday, 12:30-3pm, at the United Methodist Church. Available services include HIV and Hepatitis C testing, syringe exchange, overdose education, naloxone, and referrals to community resources or health care.

Cle Elum Public Health Outreach Unit is open every Wednesdays, 2-4pm, behind Cle Elum KVH and Medic One. Service schedules are subject to change, but are laid out as follows:

n 1st Wednesday of the month: Public Health Nurse available, STD/HIV/Hepatitis C testing.

n 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month: Insurance sign up assistance.

n 3rd Wednesday: health promotion program/Access to Baby and Child Dentistry Program.

n Every Wednesday: syringe exchange, overdose education, naloxone, and referrals to community resources and healthcare.

Lianne Bradshaw is the Community Health Specialist for the Kittitas County Public Health Department.

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