Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

KANAWHA-CHARLESTON HEALTH DEPARTMENT ; Officials Aim to Boost Needle Exchanges with Coalition; Director Says Regional Group Could Help Local Programs That Rely on Grants

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

KANAWHA-CHARLESTON HEALTH DEPARTMENT ; Officials Aim to Boost Needle Exchanges with Coalition; Director Says Regional Group Could Help Local Programs That Rely on Grants

Article excerpt

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department hopes to form a new regional coalition of West Virginia health departments, law enforcement community members, and others in the addiction recovery field, designed to help the departments gain resources to fund syringe exchange programs. Forming a coalition, said Kanawha- Charleston's executive director Dr. Michael Brumage, could help local health authorities gain funding for their needle exchange programs. Although there is some federal funding available, the programs primarily rely on grants, he said.

If a coalition were formed, foundations such as the Comer Family Foundation would be more inclined to provide funds, Brumage said. "Otherwise it's every county for themselves, he said.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's needle exchange program sees 40 to 50 new patients each week, said Brumage, and is serving more than 1,900 patients total, according to Tina Ramirez, the department's director of prevention and wellness. The clinic's patients come from every surrounding county, Brumage added.

The opioid epidemic has ravaged West Virginia, with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

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