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April 18, 2012

 

City wants input on needle disposal sites

Aldermen concerned about neighborhood impact of kiosks to collect used needles

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

Members of the city Common Council said Tuesday they want to be involved as local health officials discuss a proposal to add three needle disposal kiosks in the city.
“It needs to be done. We have to do it right,” said Alderman Ken Dye (D-3rd Ward).
Cortland County Health Director Catherine Feuerherm and Kimberly McRae Friedman, executive director of Cortland Prevention Resources, spoke to the council Tuesday about the possibility of three needle disposal kiosks in the city, while stressing that plans for the kiosks are still in development.
Both officials said the city will be included in the discussions as they progress.
“We’re still in the research stage of trying to figure out what kind of problem we have,” McRae Friedman said during the meeting.
The plan for the kiosks comes after county health officials spotted a rise in hepatitis C cases earlier this year. There have already been 15 new cases of the disease this year, according to the county Health Department. There were 20 cases last year.
Feuerherm and McRae Friedman said the rise in hepatitis C cases could be linked to the rise in illegal intravenous drug use. They said they are working with local law enforcement agencies, school districts and elected officials to tackle the problem.
City aldermen said Tuesday that they had concerns about the kiosks, particularly related to how they will impact local neighborhoods.
“I think people are concerned about the image of the city,” said Alderman Katy Silliman (D-2nd Ward).
Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said he wanted to see the kiosks placed in front of drug stores instead of near city neighborhoods.
“It has to be a concerted effort from the Department of Health, law enforcement, the county, the city,” Michales said.
Feuerherm said the goal of the program is to give residents a place in the community to safely dispose of their needles. She said she would like to see the program move forward in the next six months as the county Health Department works to stem the rise in hepatitis C cases.
Feuerherm said there is no research indicating needle kiosks negatively impact communities or create a rise in drug use in neighborhoods.
Residents can also dispose of their needles at local hospitals or nursing homes, Feuerherm said.
“I don’t believe a disposal kiosk negatively impacts quality of life on property owners,” she said.
She said 26 counties in New York state have at least one needle-disposal kiosk.
No locations have been finalized. At a county Health Committee meeting in March, officials talked about placing kiosks on south Main Street, Clayton Avenue and the county Public Safety Building on Greenbush Street.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus transmitted through the blood. There is no vaccine or cure for it.
People can also dispose of their used needles at local hospitals or nursing homes.

 

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