MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich (WLUC) - It’s called New Points, a syringe service program that provides access to sterile syringes and other injection supplies.
"Cotton pellets, sterile water, cookers, tourniquets," listed Emily Pratt, the Health Educator of the Marquette County Health Department.
By offering those injecting drugs with new equipment, the MCHD hopes reduce the risk of illness for users and non-users.
"We are hoping to get sterile syringes into the community so these individual aren’t sharing needles, reduce the risk of HIV and Hepatitis C in the communities and they reduce the risk of needle stick injuries," said Pratt.
According to the health department, syringe programs do not increase crime.
Although Marquette and Chippewa County are the only places with syringe programs in the U.P., Lower Michigan has had similar projects for years.
"Marquette County is not exempt from the opioid use epidemic that is occurring in the nation, we are just trying to get on board and see what we can do to serve that population here," Pratt said.
Starting Thursday, Sept. 13, and continuing every Thursday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the Upper Great Lakes Sawyer Family Health Center, people will be able to walk into a safe and non-judgmental space and be linked to healthcare and recovery services.
"We will talk with individuals who bring in their syringes to exchange them, and then can lead them to additional recovery services if they need that and just tell them what kind of services we offer for treatment," said Amy Poirier, the Great Lakes Recovery Center Foundation Coordinator.
Free testing for Hepatitis C and HIV is also in the works for the New Points program.
"I’m excited for this to open and start within our community and be able to serve these individuals and make it a better place for all," said Pratt.
The MCHD hopes with the success of this project similar programs can be created throughout the U.P.
The Upper Great Lakes Sawyer Family Health Center is located at 301 Explorer St., Gwinn, MI 49841