More sharps boxes planned

  • Recorder File Photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/5/2017 9:51:00 PM

GREENFIELD — Convening for the first time since the needle exchange ordinance was voted down by the Town Council, the Opioid Task Force and Tapestry Health started to map out its next steps for tackling harm reduction in town.

First and foremost, the task force wants to increase the number of disposal sites by placing more sharps boxes in places of known needle use.

The task force is busy both identifying where sharp boxes exit and where would be the best places for new ones in Greenfield and across Franklin County. Also on its agenda is how to pay for disposal.

One point emphasized by Tapestry’s Liz Whynott, who has led the group’s needle exchange program, was looking at the bigger picture. She suggested not only to increase access to sharps disposal in town, but also to increase access to Narcan, the nasal spray used to help reverse an overdose.

“I feel like this proposed ordinance pushed everyone to talk about this issue a lot more,” Whynott said, speaking about the proposal that would have regulated who could distribute needles in the town.

Recently, the health department placed a sharps box in the Town Hall.

“We thought that would be a great start,” the new Director of the Greenfield Department of Health Alexeev Jones said. “We’re taking baby steps but we’re getting to that point that we can start to put disposal points across the town.”

He noted the town needs to first just look at the issues around disposal, while keeping an eye on some of the more long-term solutions. Jones expects that a significant portion of money for this could come from a class-action lawsuit that the town has signed onto, against the three largest opioid pharmaceutical distributors.

Greenfield’s health board chairman, Dr. William Doyle, gave Tapestry his vote of confidence, saying that he supports the program and hopes it can start making some progress in town.

Although lukewarm in recent weeks to the idea of needle exchange in the town, Mayor William Martin is said to have turned the corner, following a conversation with Register Probate John Merrigan, a founder and current co-chair of the task force.

“He (Martin) is committed to working through his staff to coordinate with Tapestry and other locations,” Merrigan said. “I know we had some frustrations trying to get him to the table but I think he’s committed.”

Friday the mayor’s office announced it had joined 27 other cities across the state to call for a change to federal law to allow the Drug Enforcement Agency to pursue inappropriate wholesale prescription drug distribution, in an effort to fight the opioid epidemic.

Tapestry site coming?

Whynott said at the end of Friday’s meeting that Tapestry Health may have secured a permanent location to run its needle exchange program.

The move is expected to be finalized next week, she sad and didn’t want to disclose where at this time. Whynott did say it is anticipated to be in Greenfield and in a private location, instead of in a municipality building.

Reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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