Published On: Wed, Apr 15th, 2020

Tribe’s Syringe Services Program open twice a week during quarantine  

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF 

 

With many tribal programs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) closed due to quarantine orders relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the EBCI Syringe Services Program is opening twice a week to aid their clients.  According to information from the EBCI Public Health and Human Services division, the Syringe Services Program “is a community-based public health program for people who use drugs by injection” and “provides comprehensive harm reduction services such as providing participants with sterile syringes and clean injection equipment”.  

The program is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  

“This program is vital in reaching an extremely high-risk population,” said Ginger Southards, RN, program manager.  “We are providing education on hand-washing, signs and symptoms, and testing.  The program can help people get connected to testing and health care if they present visibly ill.”  

The program offers the following supplies and services: syringes; safer injection supplies; biohazard containers/Sharps containers; HIV/HCV testing and referrals for care; Naloxone by referral; safer injection eduction; referrals for drug treatment, medical care, and community resources per request; and community syringe disposal.  

Syringe Services program staff are taking precautions against COVID-19 to ensure their safety as well as that of their clients.  “All transactions are happening on the porch,” said Southards.  “No one is allowed in the building.  There is a six-foot barrier between staff and participants.  All supplies are given out by the staff.  Participants can no longer fill their bags.”  

She added, “Staff are wearing gloves and masks, maintaining a six-foot barrier, and only allowing one participant on the porch at a time.”  

For more information on the Syringe Services program as well as a comprehensive list and map of where to find syringe disposal locations, visit: https://cherokee-phhs.com/syringe-services/index.html

  

 

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