Needle exchange program a success

Robert Moore

Herald Staff

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The Mercer County Health Department (MCHD) needle exchange program is being cited as a model for the rest of Kentucky.

What does that mean in real numbers? Since the needle exchange—officially, the Mercer County Harm Reduction and Syringe Exchange Program—started in August, there have been 17 unduplicated clients, according to MCHD Executive Director Kathy Crown-Weber.

That may not seem like a lot, but it’s nearly double the number of people the program was originally budgeted for.

The original budget for the first year was $3,254.50. That came from tobacco settlement money—not taxpayer dollars—provided by the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy. ASAP has paid for the overages through a grant, Crown-Weber said.

The program has been very successful, but it’s not the kind of success that makes one happy.

“It is what it is,” Crown-Weber said.

Needle exchanges became legal in Kentucky in 2015 under the state’s anti-heroin legislation. That’s when Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean and Harrodsburg City Attorney Doug Greenburg approached Crown-Weber about establishing a syringe exchange program locally.

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