What We’re Doing
Put simply, are collaborating with people to make self directed positive change in their lives.
Exchanging syringes is actually a very small part of what we are doing (though it is important in that it gives us access to a hard to reach, criminalized and stigmatized population). Our of our most important functions is to serve as an access point for the many other services we provide directly or to refer to our numerous community partners, such as Volunteers in Medicine, Amethyst House, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, Centerstone, Stepping Stones, Monroe County Health Department, Keystone Interventions, Shalom, Positive Link, IU Health, Courage To Change Sober Living, Restorative Solutions, Indianapolis Treatment Center, and Fairbanks Hospital.
In the last 12 months (updated 9.5.16), we have been able to:
– Gather a group of experts (see “Who We Are” for a complete list) in HIV, Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction, social services, addiction, treatment and effective harm reduction outreach (including social workers, health care workers, doctors, nurses, academics) to directly administer and advise our program.
– Take in almost the exact same amount of syringes as we give out to returning participants.
– Collaborate with folks from New Leaf New Life and Keystone Interventions to create “Courage To Change Sober Living,” which currently houses 10 people and one child in three new low barrier supportive sober living halfway houses.
– Distribute supplies proven to stop the spread of infectious disease such as HIV and Hepatitis C and medical conditions such as sepsis infections and endocarditis. If we stop just one case of HIV, Hepatitis C, or heart valve replacement from endocarditis, our entire year’s budget is justified. For every $1 spent, $7 is saved. SEP’s (Syringe Exchange Programs) can decrease Hepatitis C and HIV transmission by up to 80%.
– Train almost 50 volunteers whose main purpose is to keep our streets clean from improperly discarded syringes.
– Do weekly walks to collect data about discarded syringes to improve our program.
– Survey local downtown businesses, the majority of whom have reported a remarkable decrease in improperly disposed of syringes since February, which happens to be exactly when we started.
– Collaborate with Bloomington Housing Authority, the Parks Department and the Health Department to address the special needs of highly policed areas such as People’s Park and Seminary Square.
– Engage with over 500 unique community members who use IV drugs
– Refer almost 40% of our participants to other services, including 97 substance use referrals (30 of which were placed in long term treatment centers), 14 mental health referrals, and 52 Healthy Indiana Plan referrals along with hundreds of free consultations with our nurses.
– Distribute 3,490 doses of naloxone to people who are using drugs, their families and social service providers.
– Report 75 opiate overdose reversals in Monroe County.
– Administer 125 HIV tests and 80 Hepatitis tests.- Offer mobile outreach services twice a week, office hours twice a week and begin to delivery in rural areas.
– Collect over $200,000 worth of in-kind harm reduction supplies.
– Distribute free naloxone and train in its administration to all of our local fire departments as well as Ellettsville, Indiana University and Bloomington Police Departments, the Monroe County Sheriff Department and Monroe County Corrections Department. We also provided free sharps containers to the Bloomington Police Department, Bloomington Housing Authority and Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department.
– Directly collaborate with organizations such as the multi-agency Community Health Initiative Program, Indianapolis Treatment Center, Keystone Intervention and Recovery Coaching, Indiana University, Centerstone, Amethyst House, Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Fairbanks Hospital, Recovery Engagement Center, Overdose Lifeline, Monroe County Health Department, Governors’ Task Force on Prescription Drugs, Positive Link, Shalom, Bloomington Housing Authority, Monroe County Prosecutors Office, Bloomington IU Hospital, New Leaf New Life, and Stepping Stones.
– Engage with thousands of participants with general services, such as nursing triage in our mobile unit, distributing hundreds of blankets and jackets, thousands of articles of clothing, feminine products, camping gear, hot coffee and food to those in need.
We have also been able to advocate for Harm Reduction in the following ways:
-Testify as experts in Harm Reduction in Washington DC to a joint House/Senate briefing on the need to lift the ban on funding.
– Serve as a model program for our adherence to best practices (as set forth by SAMSHA, HRC, NASEN, AMA and the CDC) within the parameters of Indiana law for counties interested in beginning SEP’s in their own communities.
-Interviews with the New York Times, Politico, Drug Policy Alliance, Think Progress, and Vice, as well as The Herald Times, In-Stride, Limestone Post, and many others locally.
-Host and co-facilitate three well attended Harm Reduction training’s in conjunction with the Harm Reduction Coalition.
-Speak at six community based overdose vigils, co-hosting two overdose vigils in Bloomington with over 200 in attendance.
-Speak about Harm Reduction at the Susan Li Conference at Fairbanks Hospital.
-Speak about Harm Reduction at the Indiana Attorney General’s Symposium for Prescription Drug Abuse.
-Speak about Harm Reduction at IU School of Public Health, University of Lexington Medical School. IU School of Social Work, IU School of Education, as well as classes at Ivy Tech and to high school students about harm reduction.
-Work with Indiana State Department of Health, Monroe County Department of Health, Monroe County Prosecutors Office, Lawrence County Health Department, Brown County Health Department and the Indiana Attorney General’s office to allow for the expansion of comprehensive harm reduction across Indiana.
-Attend countless meetings with individuals and organizations to promote this model of grassroots, non-coercive, community based volunteer outreach and to celebrate the principles of participant driven social services, direct action, participatory decision making, voluntary association, and mutual aid.
Most importantly, we were able to meet hundreds of people exactly where they are and empower them to make positive changes that mitigate negative health consequences for them and our community as a whole.