Friday, October 9, 2020

State Re-certifies Needle Exchange Program, with Limitations

Posted By on Fri, Oct 9, 2020 at 9:16 AM

The Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction has been recertified by the state of California to provide needle exchange services in all of Humboldt County, with the excepting of the city of Eureka, where the nonprofit is based.

The state’s decision to recertify the controversial program comes after the Eureka City Council sent a letter to the Department of Public Health urging it not to recertify the nonprofit’s license, having voiced concerns that HACHR had failed to deliver operations reports to the city and been unresponsive to neighborhood concerns regarding needle litter.

With the limited recertification from the state, HACHR can continue its operations in McKinleyville, Arcata, Fortuna, Willow Creek and Orick. And while the state certification doesn’t allow the nonprofit to do needle exchange in Eureka, it leaves the door open for the city to grant a local authorization to the nonprofit. The city — which has pledged support for needle exchange in general — has agreed to enter into mediation with HACHR to try to chart a course forward, Interim City Manager Miles Slattery told the Lost Coast Outpost.

“HACHR looks forward to continued improvement in the relationship with the city of Eureka,” HACHR wrote in a press release. “We believe that our participation in upcoming facilitated discussions with stakeholders and concerned citizens will help us all to arrive at solutions that meet everyone’s needs, including the needs of HACHR’s program participants.”

Needle exchange programs have been repeatedly proven to reduce the spread of disease and improve health outcomes, while Humboldt County has hepatitis C infection rates five times the national average and an opioid overdose rate five times that of the rest of California, according to a 2018 report from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.

Find HACHR’s full press release here and for more on the rift between HACHR and the city of Eureka, see past Journal coverage here.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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