Wayne County’s needle exchange program is continuing to grow, with more clients seeking drug treatment as well as clean needles, county health officials say. And that growth could lead to an expansion of the program.
The Wayne County Health Department started its exchange in August 2016 after winning approval to do so from state health officials. State law allowed for counties to run an exchange for one year before having to apply again to continue the program.
Legislation passed in this year's session of the Indiana General Assembly will make it easier for counties and municipalities to start and continue needle exchange programs, Wayne County Health Department Executive Director Eric Coulter said.
Legislators passed House Enrolled Act 1438 by significant margins, with the Indiana Senate approving it by a vote of 32 in favor and 16 opposed, after the Indiana House had approved the bill earlier in the session on a vote of 72 in favor and 26 opposed.
Wayne County's renewal application was due at about the same time as the legislation revamping the program was passed, said Kim Flanigan, supervisor of clinic operations for the Wayne County Health Department.
“They passed the new law within a week after we applied for the grant,” Coulter said.