By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

HHS Director renews plea for needle program funding

 

After revising his budget and talking the county Community Care Organization into agreeing to cover more of the cost, Yamhill County Health and Human Services Director Silas Halloran-Steiner renewed his plea on Monday, for funds to cover a needle exchange program. He told the committee the program is crucial to address the problem of discarded dirty needles littering parks, school playgrounds and other public areas. In order to obtain clean needles, users would have to bring in their used ones for exchange.

Halloran-Steiner was addressing the full county budget committee, in his annual presentation. After a public hearing tonight, the committee will hold its deliberations on Wednesday.

The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in room 32 of the county courthouse.

All of the meetings are open to the public. County commissioners Rick Olson and Casey Kulla said that some people had questioned whether they could attend, after reading online admonitions to county department heads, not to bring non-essential staff. County Administrator Ken Huffer said those are intended to prevent the department heads from making their presentations longer, by having multiple staff members address the committee.

Halloran-Steiner said he is asking for $38,074 from the county General Fund, to cover about 40 percent of the cost to start up the program, down from the $58,000 he had been seeking. About another $60,000 would come from the Community Care Organization.

Halloran-Steiner said that, as part of his attempt to cut costs, he eliminated a mobile van from the plan, replacing it with a used truck he proposed to buy from the state Motor Pool auction, for an estimated $2,400. But he told the budget committee that he had just learned the city of McMinnville is willing to donate an ambulance it is declaring surplus, which could be used instead. He asked to retain the $2,400, however, to cover the cost of removing all of the ambulance trappings, such as lights, sirens and markings, and revamping the inside for the new use.

He said he and his staff have spent the past year trying to find federal grant funds that could be used instead, but have not been able to find any. He plans, however, to keep looking.

“We have a huge need right now, with heroin” addiction, Halloran-Steiner told commissioners. But he said it's not just heroin; other drugs are also being injected, and some of the discarded dirty needles are from diabetics, who also would benefit from the exchange program.

Oregon is suffering a massive outbreak of Hepatitis C, which can be spread by dirty needles, Halloran-Steiner said. In Yamhill County, the CCO spent $30,000 last year to treat people infected with the disease, he said. Preventing it from being spread in the first place would be highly cost-effective, he said.

He said the risk is not just to drug addicts, but also to members of the general public and to law enforcement officers and paramedics, who are at risk of being stuck with dirty needles either from accidentally touching discarded ones, or from being stuck while arresting crime suspects, or treating medical problems.

“It isn't an open invitation to people in the county to go out and abuse illegal substances, or condoning that behavior,” Halloran-Steiner said. “It's a harm reduction strategy.

“We think the public and first-responders deserve to have fewer dirty needles they're exposed to.”

For more details, see the Tuesday edition of the News-Register.

 

Comments

TTT

NO

Bill B

Ditto!

Sponge

Needle exchange programs work. They reduce other public health costs, and actually make necessary inroads to getting people help for reducing drug dependence. The moral argument against the program as enabling drug users in their illicit habits is appealing, but fails to address the greater threat to public health and budgets.

Tuvey

If you watch Seattle is Dying then you see that the Rhode Island plan includes drug rehabilitation. Seems to work for them but instead of needle exchange they give a dose of something? Sorry it's been awhile since I watched but the homeless check in with a storefront for treatment, their names are in a database and they are receiving some sort of help. Maybe that's the next step?

Stella

NO

This idea is a joke. Portland has done this for years - need we say more?

Who's getting rich off the camper's and simply wanting to "keep it going"? You need to ask yourself that question and educate yourself. Read this:

https://www.city-journal.org/Seattle-homelessness

Bigfootlives

Close to a $100,000 for a needle exchange program? How many years? Is this annually? And the city has $2400 they can afford to donate in the form of a surplus ambulance that could be auctioned off like retired police cars. As Stella said, this program does not work. Portland has had this program for years and still has needles everywhere. There is a short video by Paul Joseph Watson on Youtube called ‘Portland is a s***hole’. It shows a heroine Addict washing out used needles in the famed Benson Bubblers rather than exchanging them, right before a tourist stops by for a drink. Search YouTube for the video. It’s the future of McMinnville.

Mike

Exchange programs are a way to identify and track users. A way for law enforcement to know who is doing what with the added public health benefit. For those who do not want to know who the users are, who don't want to help law enforcement and public health, just say no.

Stella

We say NO because we do care about public health and knowing first hand first responders getting stuck regularly in needle hand out areas responding to calls. Handing out needles = more needles on the street.

If they don't care about their health why should we? Giving them a needle does not mean they won't share it or reuse it and it does not guarantee they will be returned either.

Want to know who they are? Arrest them as they shoot up in public vs handing them more needles

NO NO and definitely NO

Lulu

Anyone recall the photos of opium dens? Maybe we could establish a center in which they can shoot up with their new needles and then relax.

Stella

Lulu -
Exactly! Then we can follow Seattle and Portland and consider buying them "clean drugs" too! We can build them tiny homes and wash their feet and dogs, and post prayer emogies when they OD all the while feeling warm and fuzzy for "helping them"

Bigfootlives

So it’s $100,000 to identify and track users? The needle exchange is anonymous and no questions asked so other than a receipt for needles they order how do they identify or track them? We say no because this doesn’t work. Good idea, let’s look around at other communities to see what doesn’t work, and do that.

TTT

Mike states "A way for law enforcement to know who is doing what with the added public health benefit".

Go on a ride-along Mike. See if we have the resources to "know who is doing what" with needles. I've spent significant time with local law enforcement, and I can tell you they are sometimes literally running from call to call until about 4 am each night. We don't have enough LEOs to "know who is doing what" because they are all taking care of DV, fights, traffic crashes, suspicious persons, or other pressing issues.

Oh and if any of the McMinnville City Councilors are reading this, I'd recommend you also go along on a ride-along. See how your decisions affect the ability of the McMinnville Police Officers in making this a livable city.

Treehouse

HHS is county, not city.

rosebloomer

No. Stop wasting the tax money those of us working are providing, HHS is going through more of our local and federal $ than any other local government with nothing to show for it.

Joel

Use the money to hire more police. We don't want to become little portland.

Treehouse

I think if you look elsewhere in this weeks News Register you'll find our County Sheriff asking the community to fund more medication supported treatment.
Arresting addicts, treating them during their stay in jail, and then releasing them into the community without any follow treatment or support hasn't been working.

Tuvey

It's interesting to read all the NOs here yet no one here has outlined a better idea. I don't have an answer either. Homeless will stay where they are comfortable and won't move on until where they are is too uncomfortable for them to stay. What can McMinnville do to stop making them comfortable and maybe get them to move on or finally seek help?

Stella

Tuvey

Needle handout = more needles on the street. More needles = more addicts and more campers equal $

If someone you care about is an addict do you:

A. Offer treatment
B. Give them more needles

Stella

Rick Olson

Can we make the County's "free needles" a unique color so when we find them around town we know who to hold responsible?

Tuvey

Stella
I love your idea of different colored needles. You're right, then we could track them.

BUT what if instead we had a place they could go, receive the drug they use in Rhode Island that is supposed to get them off whatever drug they are on, get their "shot" at the facility, no needles leave the building, get counseling at the same place and those who do not participate get no help?

Stella

Tuvey

YES YES YES!!

If we wanted to HELP them we would do that and when that's their only choice they will head to Portland. Glad to see the jail starting something but when we have zero accountability when they get out we are enabling.

I do not support needles being handed out and I'm sure HHS wouldn't agree to color coding needles either - too easy to get sued.