Needle exchange program may open out of RV

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/10/2017 11:32:06 PM

GREENFIELD — A needle exchange program, an effort to prevent the spread of disease among intravenous drug users, may soon have a place to temporarily service the public.

Tapestry Health will run this Greenfield Board of Health and state-sanctioned program out of its RV in private parking lots.

“This isn’t a permanent solution,” Tapestry Health’s Director of HIV Health and Prevention Liz Whynott said. “I want the RV involved but I think it’s very important to have a brick and mortar location.”

The program, which was approved in August 2016, allows for people to bring in used needles and exchange them for clean needles. It also provides support for those struggling with opioid addiction.

The biggest issues the needle exchange program has faced are the question of where to place the permanent location — and most recently — getting the approval to park the RV in public parking lots.

For nearly a month, Mayor William Martin has been sitting with a written proposal from Tapestry Health to approve the needle exchange to be placed in a public lot.

Martin was not present for an update on the needle exchange program at the town’s Board of Health meeting Wednesday evening because he is out of the office this week. Public Health Director Nicole Zabko said Martin was looking to hear how Tapestry Health’s similar program in North Adams was doing since finding a storefront to run it.

Whynott said the North Adams location is doing well, noting an uptick in people who have come to use the services. She said the mayor, Richard Alcombright, gave the program a city space. Tapestry is renting it from the city for $600 a month, Whynott said.

“A long story short is we’re a little disappointed frankly,” said Board of Health Chairman William Doyle, airing his frustrations with the process for approval. “We’re neck and neck with North Adams in terms of having an active program in town and apparently they have an ongoing program in the town and we don’t.”

Storefront locations that Tapestry Health has looked at in Greenfield have been over its state-funded budget of $1,000 to $1,200 a month, including overhead.

Currently, the likely location is in the Salvation Army’s parking lot, Whynott said at the meeting.

It wouldn’t be a place that they would park the program’s RV more than twice a week, but it would be a start.

The Board of Health is hopeful the program will pick up speed in the near future and with the support of Mayor Martin.


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