Mobile unit provides weekly services to Newaygo County residents.
From out friends at NCMH:
In 2020, Newaygo County Mental Health received a grant through the Fremont Area Community Foundation, in cooperation with the Southwest Michigan Community Foundation to start a harm reduction program for Substance Use Disorders in Newaygo County.
The Red Project has been providing harm reduction services in Newaygo County for over a year now. Recently, in cooperation with Newaygo CMH and Baldwin Family Health Care a decision was made to move from their Fremont location to White Cloud where the site will be more accessible to individuals due to the M-37 corridor.
Red Project will provide syringe access as a component of comprehensive service delivery aimed at decreasing the impact of substance use on the community of White Cloud, during the 2 hours their mobile unit is accessible here. Syringe access programs reduce the number of improperly disposed of needles in the community, as well as help those who are struggling with substance use live healthier safer lives. The Red Project also provides HIV and hepatitis testing, peer recovery services, free naloxone distribution and overdose response training. Needle disposal for insulin dependent diabetics is also offered free of charge.
Harm reduction programs are becoming common in Michigan, with nearly every County recognizing the public health benefits that happen as a result. As a result of syringe access and disposal services being available communities see a lower incidence of hepatitis and HIV infections, less visits to the emergency rooms for infections, less overdose fatality, less improperly disposed of syringes. It is important to know that people who participate in syringe access programs are 5 times more likely to engage with treatment than those who don’t. Syringe access programs not only help community members stay safe and stay alive, they also help people get support in ending their substance use.
“We must recognize and treat addiction as a health issue”, states Dr. Bruce Baker, Addictionologist and Medical Director for Newaygo County Mental Health. “While we hope that everyone will stop using illegal drugs, we recognize that we need to keep persons with addiction as safe as possible until they are ready to seek treatment. These are not strangers – they are family members, parents, children, brothers and sisters. There is a drug epidemic everywhere in this Country – if we say it doesn’t exist here, that is simply not true.”
Harm Reduction services will be offered at 126 S. Benson in White Cloud on Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., starting June 8. The mobile unit will be on-site on June 1, 2022 from 3:00 – 5:00 to welcome the general public to learn more about harm reduction efforts, including syringe exchanges.
“We want to be transparent and let people know exactly what services we offer”, according to Steve Alsum, Executive Director of the Red Project. “Red Project has been providing harm reduction services in West Michigan for over two decades. We’ve seen the public health impact in terms of less HIV and overdose fatalities. We’ve also seen how programs can walk alongside individuals and help them to access recovery- sometimes when they need it most. This is a needed medical service, and we are happy to expand these services to serve Newaygo County- in partnership with the local community.”
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