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2014-04-01 at 14:50

Needle removal

By Leith Dunick,
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While the spring melt in Thunder Bay remains a myth as April arrives, when the snow finally starts to disappear for good, chances are it’ll uncover a nasty needle surprise.

On Tuesday the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy unveiled a new kit to help city residents safely get rid of improperly discarded needles.
The kits include a pair of tongs, a protective container, rubber gloves and instructions.

Cynthia Olsen, co-ordinator of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, said the risk is low, but taking precautions never hurts.

“There are no documented cases of HIV being contracted from a needle-stick injury from the public,” she said.

The kits can be used multiple times before being turned in, Olsen added, noting this comes in handy in areas of the city where needle use is particularly heavy.

While most needle users are courteous and dispose of them properly, not everyone is getting the message.

“We’ve got excellent return rates in our city, but from time to time there is equipment that is found in our community,” she said.
Discarding a dirty needle is a fairly simple process with or without one of the kits.

Olsen recommends using rubber gloves and either a pair of tongs or pliers to pick the needle up. Store it in a hard plastic container, or the one provided in the kit, mark it with the word ‘needle’ and drop it off at a disposal location.

Locally they include AIDS Thunder Bay, Shelter House or the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. There are also yellow metal disposal bins situated at various locations in the city. Residents can also call Superior Points to have the container picked up.

Melissa Scott, who introduced the kits to Thunder Bay, said the equipment was designed to make discarding needles as safe as possible.

Why now?

“I just thought was an interesting idea to apply to our community because we do see lots of calls around publicly discarded needles.

We thought that anyone who sees them frequently, small business owners, people who just live in areas where they’re used, if they’re comfortable using the kits, then why not let them,” said Scott, chairwoman of the TBDS’s harm reduction unit and a public health nurse at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

Olsen cautioned the public not to call police if they find a needle.

“Calling the police if you find a discarded needed is not a core police function,” she said.

Kits are available at the Health Unit, through Superior Points or at AIDS Thunder Bay.

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We've improved our comment system.
NowayJose says:
Here is a new idea - quit giving out free needles!
Just picture me, as a tax paying Canadian citizen, wanting others to fill my empty beers bottles!
As if!
4/1/2014 3:23:56 PM
SomeGuy says:
Do you know how much one person costs our Health Care system who has HIV? According to Canadian AIDS Society over the life time of someone with HIV it will cost $1.3 Million. (Source: )

So the cost of this program is peanuts to treating someone who got a disease from a dirty needle.
4/1/2014 6:23:33 PM
trollol says:
It's refreshing to hear some wise and sober council instead of the default reaction of scoffing.
4/2/2014 3:27:45 PM
Bondjames80 says:
Let me get this straight! We pay for hundreds of thousands of needles to be distributed. We pay for wages to distribute these needles. Now we are going to pay for kits and distribution of kits to pick up the hundreds of thousands of needles we paid to distribute. When will it end? If we can't end this madness and let these people buy their own needles, then we should at least do a real needle exchange. You get 1 needle at a time and you hand one in to get one.
4/1/2014 3:40:19 PM
enos012 says:
Put it many things in oue lives are done against our will that we have no say yet are forced to do at an early age? You want to help these people? Quit giving them needles, take them from were ever they are and detox them! Why the are we paying for needles to enable them and thier bad habits? So they can turn around and toss thier garbage all over the street so some kid picks one up and become infected? The answer to this solution society came up with is a joke!!!
4/1/2014 4:03:44 PM
sudbury yahoo says:
When you're high and homeless, do you really care about safe disposal of needles? Are you going to break open your kit and put on your rubber gloves? I think you're going to drop it on the ground wherever you shoot up. If the health unit is going to give out needles, and not supply a safe shooting site, give out ONE needle per person, not packs of needles that are discarded all over the place.
4/1/2014 4:08:34 PM
NWO2014 says:
Here's an idea. Educate yourself on the topic you care so much to negatively post about. It is proven fact that harm reduction strategies save tax payers enormous amounts of money in health care costs. Tax payer money is wasted everyday in ways that the public often never consider. I do not consider needle exchange to be a waste at all. Cheers to all of the compassionate people who advocate for the less fortunate! We need more people like them and less people who are too self absorbed to show compassion to marginalized members of their community! Cheers to Superior Points! You guys do amazing work.
4/1/2014 4:30:51 PM
sc says:
Watched this story during the evening news. It was demonstrated how there is no danger to picking up the needles if done correctly, using the kit with the gloves, etc. However at the end of the news clip they showed a large container that said "Biohazard". Hmmm, so is it safe for the general public to help clean up these needles or are the needles a biohazard? A bit of a mixed message.
4/1/2014 6:41:04 PM
socialist_fool says:
That idea, to get new needles for exchange of old ones, is a good one. Keep the streets cleaner and the public safer. But, from the way you're criticizing the exchange program, you obviously don't understand the benefits. Let me teach you.
1) It is harm prevention/reduction. That means, less needle-sharing = less transfer of diseases like HIV. Also, less need for the person to potentially harm others to get needles (ie. robbery, assault, etc). This, in itself, keeps more people safe (which should be the goal).
2)Harm prevention strategies have been proven numerous times to be more cost-effective (yes, that means our tax dollars) than dealing with the problem after it has happened. Health care for those with HIV/AIDS is very expensive, as are all the legal services (in the case of needles being obtained through violent/illegal means) - and remember those costs comes out of our pockets as well.
Addiction is not a character flaw, its a societal flaw. Remember that.
4/1/2014 9:13:33 PM
Westfortforever says:
I think maybe Thunder Bay Drug Strategy co-ordinator Cynthia Olsen should start going around picking up all the needles.
4/1/2014 11:11:03 PM
skycase says:
So because there's "no documented cases of HIV being contracted from a needle-stick injury" that makes it okay for the public to pick needles up? What about Hep C? Oh that's right The Hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for at least 16 hours but no longer than 4 days. Thank God it's not room temp out there. How about my children and I DON'T DO DRUGS SO WE DON'T WANT TO PICK NEEDLES UP!!! My kids can't just go play in the snow outside of our yard, Mission Marsh first thing we see were needles and water packs! Where did my childrens rights go? I'm sick of it! You give them out or you use them then YOU PICK THEM UP!
4/2/2014 5:16:21 AM
sideways says:
Are you serious what happened to the days when the needle exchange looked after the needles left around. Just turned into another useless bloated bureaucracy. Maybe they need to look up the meaning of harm reduction and include homeowners
4/2/2014 8:53:50 AM
anniegirl says:
I agree enough is enough. Who is harm reduction helping? Keeps addicts addicted, keeps the needles on the street, keeps our youth at risk of stepping on the needles...or worse yet thinking that is acceptable to start using drugs as "adults" support the practice by giving out needles, cleaning up after the addicts, and holding only the working man and woman accountable. And truly anyone who knows anything about addictions understand that while someone is using they have lost all humanity. Canada has become way to "left". I almost feel embarrassed to be a Canadian. Lets stop enabling...lets give the addict their bottom so then we can really help them get well.
4/2/2014 9:27:28 AM
LetRrip says:
Embarassed to be Canadian? Thats going a little too far... shame shame

Again, revisit the information on Harm Reduction and the good it does cause. Everyone is so quick to judge but really what is the solution? Should we take all the addicts into the middle of the bush and drop them off? Then would you hoity toity wasps be able to sleep better at night? Its frustrating that this is an issue, i get that, and I feel bad for those who cant enjoy the outdoors due to this, but really, if wasnt this issue it would be another...we have to keep trying something because doing the same thing over and over is the definition of insanity
4/2/2014 11:01:24 AM
enos012 says:
I have been ashamed for quite sometime to be honest. I am not perfect and have made a few mistakes and some poor judgments but when I look at the whole and how we treat each other. We promote unity but have division. The rich have gotten richer and we all have come to realise the government is a farce and just as corrupt as those put in jail. The ideal of sports, music, and entertainment has become out of hand. I heard since I was a child(30 years ago now) about equality in races but as I asked one person(native) the other day the have agreed it has gotten worse. Business fees, over charging, prices skyrcketing, greed, etc etc.
4/2/2014 3:29:33 PM
arjay says:
I think we would be doing our City a bigger favour, if we handed out Bags and Rubber Gloves, to pick up all the unhealthy DOG dumps all over the City. (SERIOUSLY)
4/2/2014 11:20:21 AM
youngintbay says:
Disgusting. Have them shoot up in the safe location were needles can be collected. Thats b.s that they can take them with them. Think of some young kid out there playing and comes across a needle. Do you think he`ll have a safe needle container to collect the needle with. I dont think so.
4/2/2014 11:33:16 AM
Just sayin' says:
I found two needles in snow banks in Sylvain Learning Centre's parking lot in Victoriaville this week...What a hole, it just makes me not want to visit there at all let alone take my kids on that side of town. We should just shut our social services down so people with "addiction" problems get shipped out of town. That's what Burlington and Oakville do and they keep getting voted in the top as nice places to live with increased residential property value. Let's send them onto Winnipeg or to Ottawa so politicians can see what needs fixing.
4/2/2014 12:01:13 PM
sideways says:
Ok I know harm reduction inside and out. I have done my time with safe injection sites working with user groups and I would like to point out the the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the "drug strategy " have not only lost their way. They have now started a backward slide. The solutions are out there but Superior Points the Health Unit have
1. become a bureaucratic bloated entity.
2. Forgotten where they came from this was a grass routes community driven program where the health unit had to be shamed into it's involvement
3. The lessons learned at national and international levels " NOTHING FOR US, WITHOUT US"
We have a drug strategy that pays lip service to users of substances and a Health unit that develops programing for users with out the decency to consult and value the consumers input.
Ohhh and what happened to Superior Points actually doing things for the WHOLE community
4/3/2014 10:40:04 AM
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