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Dirty Needles Prompt Discussion

By Staff | May 24, 2017

The Tyler/Wetzel Board of Health met on Tuesday May 9 where needles and syringes were a big topic of discussion. It was stated that one board member was a major advocate for handing out syringes. There has been a major epidemic with Hepatitis C and they would like to work with commissioners to get funding for Hep C tests and to setup a clean needle exchange. It was stated that Hep C testing is very expensive.

There was a needs assessment addressed in regards to Hepatitis C. It was stated that there is a list in Charleston of people who are considered to be chronic Hep C carriers. There have been a few local instances where Hepatitis carriers have gone from acute to chronic over the last few years. The board is now able to track some of these people in order to help them. Some board members feel that drug clinics should be longer to have more of an impact on controlling these spreadable diseases. The drug usage has caused a major spike in the transfer of Hepatitis B and C. Board member Larry Lemon stated, “I would be interested in working with someone to provide a crisis center in town to address that treatment problem. If there is a way to reduce the difficulty of people being treated by keeping them closer as opposed to traveling out of town, I would be interested in that.”

Rich Earliwine spoke with board members to inquire about the newly proposed clean air bill. He and other members felt that things need to be put in priority, such as the drug epidemic, as opposed to focusing on the clean air act. They mentioned that state gets money from smokers and that the smoking ban will hurt small businesses.

It was explained that the bill is on hold until prosecuting attorneys can meet with the Board of Health members to come up with a resolution, however the prosecuting attorneys could not be there that day due to court.

The financial report stated that there could be a 6 percent decrease for the upcoming year.

Patricia Whitlash with the Children’s Services spoke of a substance abuse prevention course aimed informing kids of the potential risks of an overdose and overdose prevention. The community coalition has been helping communities with needle exchanges and it was stated that people going through a needle exchange are 5 times more likely to seek a long term solution to the problem.

The Wetzel County Board of Education has donated to the Board of Health to assist with their threat protection plan and it was announced that this would be the last year that the treat protection grant would be available.

The Health Department would like to start providing Narcan training to the Wetzel/Tyler Commissioners, mayors, and city administrators. The board is waiting for Tyler County to hire their next commissioner.

There was some discussion over the new strategic plan book and the environmental code targeting environments within businesses such as a restaurant. There have been some incidents of animals being inside of buildings that violate certain health codes. A motion passed accepting the new strategic plan book.

There was money from some of the opioid lawsuits that was supposed to go to treatment facilities but there were not that many as of yet. Some lawsuits are still pending however.

There were appointments of board members addressed. Brent Gamble was appointed as Chairman and Eric Peters was nominated as Vice-Chairman to the Tyler/Wetzel Board of Health.

It was mentioned that the health board had recently gone through an audit and the results have some back very successfully. They will hold a special meeting to accept the audit.

Dr. David Hess has agreed to be the health officer for the Board of Health. They are currently working on locating a backup health officer.