Clark County can move forward with establishing a syringe exchange program after months of waiting.
The state health commissioner declared a public health emergency in the community Monday, nearly eight months after Clark County submitted its initial request.
Clark County sought state approval for a syringe exchange program in December. At the time, Hepatitis C rates were 30 percent higher than the state average.
But Indiana’s health commissioner wanted more information before approving the exchange, including details about how it would be run.
Like other communities, Clark County planned to partner with a non-profit to run the exchange. It originally planned to work with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to fund the program.
But the county had to submit a new application to the state last week that doesn’t include help from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“They thought going into this that they would be able to help us out, but then some of the players changed in their organization,” says Clark County Health Department Administrator Mike Meyer. “And I guess the further review, without some funding that they were trying to secure from the state health department to use for some other projects in the state, it didn’t allow them I guess the excess funding to help us at that point.”
Meyer says the new plan uses volunteers to staff the exchange. He hopes to secure funding for the program through the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis.
“They have some grant monies available to help purchase syringes and some of the other supplies that go along with running the program,” Meyer says.
The county still has to apply for the grants and there’s no timeline for starting the exchange.
Clark County is the sixth county to receive state approval for a syringe exchange program.