GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After months struggling to find a location, western Massachusetts health agency Tapestry has opened their syringe access program at The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield.
Opinions on the program vary widely. John Webb of Greenfield said, “People get sharp needles and dirty needles, and it saves a lot of problems for them and makes it a lot safer.”
John Parks of Greenfield told 22News he thinks it will encourage drug use. “We don’t know if they are going to use it for drug use like heroin or whatever”, he said. “I don’t think its a good idea, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for churches to be involved in something like that.”
The syringe access program is in the church’s choir room. Tapestry collected more than 90 dirty needles in the first week and a half of the program. When you come in, you’ll be able to trade in one dirty needle for two clean ones. You’ll also be able receive training on overdose prevention and how to use Narcan.
Tapestry is also offering free HIV and Hepatitis C testing, as well as drug treatment referrals.
“Needle exchange has shown to be really effective in promoting the health of individuals who inject drugs and also preventing a lot of public health issues, such as discarded syringes,” said Liz Whynott, Director of Tapestry’s HIV Health & Prevention.
Whynott told 22News statistics show that needle exchange reduces the chances of drug overdoses, and decreases the rates of HIV and Hepatitis C.
Tapestry has needle exchange programs in all four counties in western Massachusetts. They have locations in several major cities across western Massachusetts.