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Needle exchange program starts in Greenfield

  • Community Action Family Center at 90 Federal St. in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Community Action Family Center at 90 Federal St. in Greenfield Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Friday, July 14, 2017

GREENFIELD — After nearly a year of challenges to find a place to run its town-approved needle exchange and harm reduction program, Tapestry Health has started to offer its services out of Community Action Family Center on Federal Street.

Although it’s not a permanent solution, the syringe access program will be available Mondays and Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m.

The program will offer free syringes access and disposal, harm reduction counseling and supplies and free Narcan.

It will function essentially as a soft-open of its syringe access program, similar to the ones it runs out of Northampton, Holyoke and North Adams.

The ultimate goal for Tapestry Health in Greenfield is to have its Greenfield Board of Health-approved program operate out of a downtown storefront. It has also tried to operate out of its mobile RV, but has faced issues on where it can park the vehicle.  

Mayor William Martin said he turned down Tapestry’s request to park its RV across three parking spaces on Chapman Street. He said he has wanted to see how its other programs are running.

“I want to see if this is a successful program,” Martin said. “We talked about a fixed site, not a mobile site. Let’s bring this discussion back to the table again.”

The mayor was informed about the reported successes of Tapestry’s program in North Adams by the Board of Health, following a meeting two months ago.

“I would like to discuss those results, their performances, outcomes,” Martin said. “Reaching a higher number of needle exchanges, I don’t think that’s any success.”

Tapestry has searched for places to park at different businesses and community organizations in Greenfield, but so far, no luck.

“We just continue to come across unforeseen hurdles in finding a place to where place the RV,” said Liz Whynott, director of HIV health and prevention for Tapestry Health.

Ideally by the fall, the program hopes to transition into using its RV at a specific location, and then it will look forward and begin searching for a permanent location, Tapestry Health CEO Cheryl Zoll said.

“The opioid crisis is so real in the community so we know that the demand is out there,” Zoll said. 

Zoll said that both research and Tapestry’s experience at other sites, particularly at the Holyoke location, shows that a needle exchange program helps to clean up the town. She said they end up taking in more needles than they distribute. 

“When people come in for clean syringes, that serves an important public health function as helping to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C,” Zoll said.

But the program is not just about the distribution of needles.

“Gradually through the repeated interactions, the syringe access program serves as a broader door into the services of the world,” Zoll said “It can really help to lift people out of the disorder.”

Reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264