Support 'mobile' Harm Reduction Services in Santa Cruz County. Refer to data not opinions.
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We don’t have to tell you that we are living in fear based times where referencing data and facts is becoming a thing of the past.
Luckily we live in Santa Cruz County where we value science, data driven best practices, equity and access to health care for everyone.
Last year, a group of devoted people formed a Harm Reduction Coalition to raise awareness for the need to embrace and support Harm Reduction access to life saving services related to clean injection supplies, naloxone use and training, referrals, sharps containers and a safe place to drop of used syringes.
Some of us have been leaning in to the substance using community to determine the need for additional outreach that literally meets people where they are.
We are fortunate that our County Health Services Agency supports syringe services at two fixed locations.
We believe after meeting with people for nearly a year, that the County Health Services can not meet all the needs of the community. There are transportation, apprehension about the medical model and clinic setting, fear of being seen at the clinic. We have asked people why they do not use the county clinic. Examples of barriers are below.
1. I don’t want to be seen there. Too close to Methadone clinic, police presence (perceived)
2. I don’t like/trust doctors and nurses. I don’t want to see a doctor/nurse They have never treated me like anything other than a ‘junkie’
3. I can not get there at those times.Transportation, traffic
4. Have a wheelchair, walker.
5. Police write tickets and I don’t like carrying all my used syringes. Probation violations.
6. Don’t trust the government
7. I don’t like having my profile in a computer.
8. Police/Rangers confiscated all my used syringes, my stuff was stolen so now I don’t have any to exchange and I know they wont give me any.
9. I just got out of jail and do not have anything at all.
Preventing the spread of disease and reducing the harm associated with drug use will affect us all in a positive way.
Access to safe injection supplies and opioid reversal drug naloxone saves money and saves lives.
We want to increase contact with people so they can safely dispose of their used syringes.
I ask for you to show your support by sending an email to California Department of Public Health via this email address.
You can view our desired program here
MYTH: We are going to compete and undermine the county Syringe Program. FACT:We are going to work with the county Health Services Agency and we have a good relationship. Having two fixed sites in our diverse county can not meet all the needs of the residents who use drugs. Santa Cruz County has a high rate of overdose and we can improve our naloxone distribution and training.
MYTH: Giving out more syringes will increase syringe litter.
FACT: In 11 months of secondary outreach we have removed over 95,000 used syringes from the community. We have distributed a little over 93,000. We need more means of safe disposal of used syringes. More access to people that use drugs will increase disposal options for people that use drugs.
MYTH: Handing out syringes enables drug use.
FACT: People who use drugs will not cease using if they don't have safe injection equipment. Giving people what they need enables them to make the best possible health division given the circumstances. We enable preventing disease transmission. We enable dignity and connection. We enable staying alive.
MYTH: More Syringe Services will encourage more people to come to Santa Cruz.
FACT: There are over 45 programs throughout California. Many communities have more than one. Several counties were contacted by the CDC to start a program as they were identified as 'at risk' of experiencing an HIV outbreak as we saw in Indiana in 2014. (Plumas County, Lake County) You can find other programs in California here
We refer people to HPHP and the county health clinic, offering rides and a warm hand off. We provide another safe place to have a conversation about treatment should the person want to discuss this.
The debate about the efficacy of syringe services has railed on for years. Nine federally funded studies have proven what we all know.
Science is real. Syringe services reduce syringe waste, improve public health for an entire community, connects users to treatment sooner, saves lives and saves money, & prevents the spread of HIV and Hep C among other diseases.
We say NIMBY to an HIV outbreak like we saw in Scott County, Indiana in 2014 that is estimated to cost the state a minimum of 58 million dollars.
We will report data to CDPH on an annual basis and the County Health Officer every 2 years.
We will work closely with the Oakland Harm Reduction office and have already held one training with more to come.
We will speak directly to any community groups or neighborhood groups that would like to learn more of our outreach.
We all do better when we all do better
We are here to support the entire community in any way to deeply understand the need for this service.
Recent Santa Cruz Sentinel article
Thank you very much
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