• Arne Mortensen

Cowlitz County Syringe Exchange Plan submitted to the Board of County Commissioners.

If you'd like to read the plan submitted by the Cowlitz County Health & Human Services Departments, click here. This plan will be evaluated and voted on by the BoCC soon at a public hearing, probably on one of the customary Tuesday morning weekly meeting.

Barring some new revelation, I will be voting to terminate the Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) by 25 September 2017. While this is not intended to be a full discussion, the following may be of some interest to some.

Reasons for termination are many:

  • Some about the plan as submitted:

  • The county cannot agree to a plan that states “common safety practice” will be discontinued.

  • The plan states that the SEP will require more resources to function under the new plan. The County does not have the money for this purpose.

  • The plan claims that it cannot “directly report the number of clients that enter into a program for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services.” Yet, during the recent night hearing, HHS staff announced that one person in 6 months had entered a program. It is unreasonable not to be able to measure the progress of one of the points used to sell the program.

  • Some of the many issues already presented in prior discussions:

  • The mixed message given by the program about acceptability of drug usage in this form.

  • The cost of the program (~$100k).

  • Many other counties do not have such a program and there are no reported cataclysmic (or otherwise) consequences.

  • The significant danger to the public from discarded needles

  • The poorly managed program

  • The lack of citizen support

  • One point not mentioned in prior discussions is that the SEP began when syringes were not available over the counter without prescription. That is no longer that case … so why are the taxpayers required to pay for an SEP?

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