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For Tippecanoe County, Needle Exchange Approval Was Easy Compared To Next Steps

Steve Burns

The lead architect of Tippecanoe County’s proposed needle exchange program says he hopes to work through multiple problems simultaneously in 2017.

County Health Officer Jeremy Adler admits he’ll have to find a way to pay for the program and secure the blessing of Lafayette’s mayor and police chief at the same time.

“Given the fact that this is going to be a grant-funded program, it will take, I imagine, several months to secure funding," Adler says. "And in that time, of course, we can hammer out the other details, such as the location and some of the other logistical concerns.”

Adler says he’s mulling where to house the program, but thinks it’s unlikely it’ll wind up out in the county.

“At this point I would say nothing is off the table," he says. "It probably makes sense to have the program located either in the city of Lafayette or West Lafayette, because that’s where most of the population is, rather than out in the county – also in terms of accessibility with public transportation.”

In early December, State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams approved Adler’s request to declare a county health emergency – a step state law says must be taken before a syringe services program can begin.

That was after Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski spoke pointedly to IU Health-Arnett Hospital representatives following approval of the program by county commissioners, suggesting the hospital should play host to the program so it wouldn’t have to reside in one of his city’s residential areas.

Adler says he’s heard  Roswarski's concern that drug users from other counties might migrate to Tippecanoe County to seek out needles, but he says he’s also heard from his counterparts across the state that such a problem is not as prevalent as some had feared it might become.

Only nine Indiana counties have been granted health emergency status so far.

The nearest to Greater Lafayette is in Madison County, northeast of Indianapolis.

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