Grant going to needle exchange program
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Pitt County Health Department is using a $44,440 grant to aid a local community needle exchange program, the director said.
Pitt is one of 22 North Carolina health departments sharing $1.8 million to implement high-impact, community-level strategies based on the N.C. Opioid Action Plan to address the opioid crisis, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The one-time funding is from a $4 million cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The one-time grants of up to $100,000 encourage local health departments and districts to partner with local agencies and community-based organizations to implement strategies such as syringe exchange programs, connection of justice-involved persons to treatment and recovery services and post-overdose response teams with emergency medical services.
“We already have a community needle exchange program,” said Dr. John Morrow, Pitt County Health Department director. “It’s called ekiM for Change. It was started by Diannee Carden in memory of her son who lose his life to opioid addiction.” EkiM is Mike spelled backward.
“We are going to pass the money to that needle exchange program because she’s been depending on her personal funds plus some small grants she got. She used her son’s life insurance policy after the died to get this program started,” Morrow said.
“We had been providing them some support and some referrals. We were helping them dispose of their needles here at health department and offering testing for communicable diseases like HIV and hepatitis,” he said.
The grant can’t be used to purchase needles or drugs that counteract the effects of an overdose, Morrow said, it can be used to purchase alcohol wipes, tourniquets, cotton balls and bandages.
The county board of health has given Morrow’s team the authority to launch its own needle exchange program, but he doesn’t see a need to start another one.
“We want to make sure the one that has been successful continues to be successful in our county,” Morrow said.
“It takes some time to build trust with opioid users, and she’s done that over the last year. Her numbers have grown because people are learning about the syringe exchange and trusting her and the people who work with her,” Morrow said. “That’s a really good thing because we want more people to come for testing and eventually treatment to get them off these addicting drugs.”
The NC Opioid Action Plan was launched in June 2017 with collaboration from stakeholders across the state. The plan identifies key strategies to curtail the opioid epidemic, including reducing over prescribing of opioids, reducing the flow of illicit drugs and diversion, increasing community awareness and prevention, increasing access to naloxone; and expanding treatment and recovery-oriented systems of care.
“The strategies that local communities selected will prevent fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses, increase access and linkages to care services for the most vulnerable populations and build local capacity to respond to the opioid epidemic in North Carolina,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, section chief for the Chronic Disease and Injury Section, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Contact Ginger Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9570.