The Tippecanoe County needle exchange program is ordering a second mobile unit. The health department plans to order the vehicle next week.
Officials announced the purchase of the $147,000 vehicle Thursday, the funding for which will come from state grants. Officials hope to have it in service by October.
County Health Officer Jeremy Adler says the trailer they’re currently using works for the needle exchange, but the new one offers more amenities.
“And so our new mobile unit is like an RV, but it will be specially outfitted on the inside to be like a mobile clinic,” Adler says.
The new unit will be climate-controlled and include spaces for blood tests, counseling and administering immunizations.
Adler says the exchange program has a nearly 79 percent return rate on needles handed out to new and returning participants. For just returning participants, that rate is almost 97 percent.
And he says preliminary counts show the county’s number of new hepatitis C cases – a disease often transmitted through use of dirty needles -- dropped by a third from 2017 to 2018.