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State Approves Monroe County Needle Exchange Program

The needle exchange program would allow people to turn in used syringes for new ones.

Monroe County is the latest in Indiana to have been declared a public health emergency. State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams made the declaration Tuesday in response to an outbreak of hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is often spread through sharing of needles. To combat this, Monroe County is planning to open a needle exchange program in January.

The details of the needle exchange program will be left up to local officials.

Kathy Hewett is the lead health educator for the Monroe County Health Department. She says the program will be a mobile service. The providers go out into the community at least once a week.

“Later it might be twice a week and then once a month we’ll have what they call a one stop shop where they have multiple providers in one location to make it easier on them to access what they need,” Hewett says.

According to local officials, approval from the state took longer because Monroe is the first county to work with an outside agency for services, the Indiana Recovery Alliance.

The declaration for public health emergency will run through December 21st of 2016. Officials will have to send in a new request at that time.

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