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National News

Vermont: Health Department Allows Needle Exchange to Continue

February 4, 2003

Vermont's Department of Health announced it would allow Vermont CARES to continue its needle exchange program in the town of St. Johnsbury, provided it complies with several conditions. Health Commissioner Jan Carney sent a letter to Town Manager Mike Welch outlining steps the program must take.

Kendall Farrell, executive director of Vermont CARES, said the organization is currently formulating a response to the health department. She declined to comment on whether or not the program would continue under the new conditions. While some of these are feasible, she said, others -- like additional staff training -- would come at added expense. The department's requirements resemble those set forth last month by the Community Health Advisory Committee, headed by the CEO of Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, Paul Bengtson, and the St. Johnsbury Board of Selectmen.

Vermont CARES must change the structure of the needle exchange community advisory board within three months. It must also train outreach workers to deliver needles to clients and create written policies about how many needles can be distributed at one time. For each needle distributed, clients have to return one. Additionally, Vermont CARES will be required to establish a formal agreement with Tri-County substance abuse services to incorporate treatment referrals and counseling into the program, and it must create a community-based system for measuring and reporting the needle exchange program's effectiveness.

"I'm very happy the Department of Health basically agreed with our community advisory board and the recommendations they put together," said St. Johnsbury Selectman Dale Urie. "The only thing better was to actually shut the program down."

Back to other CDC news for February 4, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
01.31.03



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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