Harm Reduction Clinic
What is the Harm Reduction Clinic at Jefferson County Health Department?
The Harm Reduction Clinic (HRC) is an opportunity for people who use illicit drugs to get help. “Harm reduction” is an approach to helping people suffering from addiction by focusing on preventing unhealthy consequences of their substance use.
Why is one operating in Jefferson County?
One of the missions of local health departments is to address unmet public health needs in the community. The Jefferson County Board of Health views preventive healthcare for people who use drugs, particularly those who inject opioids, to be one of these unmet needs. We face an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in West Virginia, which had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country for 2014 and 2015.
The board of health has set the goal of achieving five important outcomes of the Harm Reduction Clinic:
- Reduced opioid overdose deaths through expanded access to naloxone (Narcan);
- Reduced morbidity and mortality from HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C through testing, referral to treatment, and sterile syringe access through a 1 for 1 exchange program;
- Reduced number of sharps injuries due to improperly discarded needles;
- Increased access to counseling and medically assisted treatment of chemical dependence through collaboration with local behavioral health providers;
- Prescription and injection of long-acting naltrexone (Vivitrol) service for select patients who are in recovery from opioid and alcohol abuse.
Is this a drug treatment program or “rehab”?
No. Harm reduction is about meeting patients where they are in their readiness to recover from addiction. HRC staff will inform patients about abstinence-based recovery programs, but this approach is not the focus of the HRC.
Is this “needle exchange”?
Sterile syringe access is one feature of the HRC. One of the main goals of the Jefferson County Board of Health in establishing the HRC is reducing the transmission of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV in the community. An additional goal is to reduce the amount of improperly discarded needles in our area. Patients at the HRC will receive one free sterile syringe for each used syringe they discard at the HRC.
How should patients bring in the used needles?
Place used syringes in a thick plastic bottle, such as a laundry detergent container, put the lid on it, and write “SHARPS” in permanent marker on the side. HRC nurses will confirm the number of syringes in the container and dispense an equal number of sterile syringes for the client. Staff will then seal the container and dispose of the sharps properly.
What else happens at the clinic?
All patients at the HRC will see the county health officer and nursing staff for an intake visit. At the first appointment, patients and staff will use shared decision making to determine the appropriate education, screening, testing, referrals, and follow-up.
Additional services that patients may receive include:
- Naloxone (“Narcan”) training and prescription for treatment of opioid overdose;
- Non-judgmental encouragement and education about available addiction treatment options;
- Testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B, and referral to treatment if necessary;
- Reproductive health services for education, condoms and other forms of contraception;
- Breast and cervical cancer screening programs;
- “Vivitrol” (long acting injectable naltrexone) prescription and injection for certain patients who are opioid-free for at least 10 days, receiving professional addiction counseling, and do not have certain medical conditions like liver injury.
How much will this cost the patients?
This initial consultation and sterile syringes are free, but additional testing or preventive medications may require patient payment or insurance billing.
The board of health is offering this Harm Reduction Clinic to address unmet health care needs in Jefferson County, but as with all our services, patients will not be denied care based on residence or ability to pay.
When, Where, and How?
Patients will be seen at the Jefferson County Health Department, 1948 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430 on an appointment only basis, beginning Tuesday, January 17, 2017. Call 304-728-8416 and ask about the “Harm Reduction Clinic” to schedule an appointment.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Our area is seeing a spike in cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). HFMD is caused by Coxsackie virus, and usually affects children under 5. HFMD can occur in adults as well, and is named after the sores that typically occur in the mouth, on the hands, and the feet. HFMD usually starts with a fever and sore throat, with the sores appearing 1-2 days later.
People with HFMD are most contagious in the first week of illness, which is transmitted in the saliva, mucus (“runny nose”), feces, and sometimes the blister fluid of infected individuals. Typically, recovering children or adults are considered non-contagious when the fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medicine, the rash is starting to resolve, and they are starting to feel better.
If you are concerned you or a loved one may have HFMD, talk to you primary care physician. You can also get more information at http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html.
As part of its mission to protect the public from communicable diseases, the Jefferson County Health Department regularly investigates possible cases of tuberculosis (TB). Over 99% of these investigations reveal no evidence of active TB, but sometimes raise considerable concern in the community. Most TB tests are either completely negative, or reveal a condition called latent tuberculosis. The following is a link to a CDC fact sheet on latent TB, but the most important fact to remember is this: persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others. http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/factsheets/general/ltbiandactivetb.htm
If you have questions or concerns about TB, other communicable diseases, or would like to get your flu shot, please call the health department at (304) 728 – 8416.
University Healthcare and regional County Health Departments are conducting a community health needs assessment (CHNA) to help with health planning. We would like to know your thoughts on about key health issues and quality of life in the Eastern Panhandle. The information will help us to address critical health issues that you identify.
The anonymous online survey is found at http://wvu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_bft8sKsoxNeL37L. Your participation in the survey is entirely voluntary. The survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. Please share this information with your family, friends, and neighbors. It is important to hear from as many people as possible.
2016 Flood update: The need for volunteers in the affected counties is still rising. Please follow the link provided to learn more on how and where to register. We will be offering free Tetanus shots, while supplies last, to anyone who will be assisting the impacted counties. You may come in to the health department on Thursdays from 9am - 11am or 1pm-3pm to receive your free Tetanus shot.
Zika Virus Information
For the latest information about the Zika virus visit the Center for Disease Control website here: