Wingham needs sharps disposal site says HPPH
BY DENNY SCOTT
North Huron Council is considering getting involved with the Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) team’s harm reduction and safe disposal option program, asking for a staff report on placing a safe disposal site for sharps – a medical term for any kind of device that can puncture skin, including needles – somewhere in Wingham.
Sharps have been found in Wingham, according to HPPH Harm Reduction and Drug Strategy Lead Michelle Carter, hence the suggestion of a sharps disposal site in the community.
Carter explained that the program provides safe single-use supplies, like needles, for those who use them in order to prevent illness due to sharing or reusing. The group also provides kits to prevent overdose deaths, she said. The program presents an opportunity for social savings, Carter said, pointing to the fact that people contracting chronic diseases or overdosing have a severe monetary impact on the healthcare system.
Currently, there is a partnership between the HPPH and the Royal Oaks Pharmacy in Wingham to provide naloxone kits, sharps containers and other supplies, Carter said, and she hopes that a sharps disposal site can be set up in Wingham. It likely wouldn’t be at the pharmacy, however, as it’s hospital-owned property and the hospital board had turned down the request.
Carter explained that a kiosk would come with an estimated $4,000 cost to empty every year, based on local numbers. She said the price is based on how often it needs to be emptied, calculated by weight.
After being told that staff could investigate the installation of a “centre” or “kiosk” as Carter called the disposal bins, council had several questions about the program.
Deputy-Reeve Trevor Seip asked how either the municipality or HPPH was going to make sure the receptacle would only be used for its intended purpose. “I’m concerned that, like every other [kind of] kiosk in every other drop place, that people will drop whatever the heck they want in that kiosk,” he said. “My concern is the cost of disposal won’t be $4,000, but will be $7,000.”
Carter said she hadn’t heard of that being a problem, but did say some health units have some kind of surveillance at the disposal bins. “The idea is it would be placed somewhere discrete, but lit,” she said.
Carter alluded to a stigma to using the bins, saying that people don’t want to be near the bins.
“There have been other concerns that people who use drugs hang out there,” she said. “Believe me, no one wants to hang out there.”
Councillor Chris Palmer asked if North Huron needed to be concerned about drug use, and Carter said North Huron as a whole isn’t an area of concern, but Wingham is. While Carter couldn’t give any kind of measurements to quantify the concern, she did say there are three areas of concern in Huron County for drug use: Goderich, Wingham and Exeter. She said that Wingham specifically has methamphetamine and opioid use concerns.
Carter said North Huron staff could back up the concerns, specifically in sharps being found in parks or recreation areas. She went on to say that Wingham could be identified as a concern area further based on information from addiction services, emergency services and Ontario Provincial Police reports.
“It is of concern for your community,” she said. “I don’t know how to quantify it, but it is of concern.”
When Reeve Bernie Bailey asked if Carter had approached the Blyth Pharmacy for partnership concerns, Carter said Blyth wasn’t an area of concern.
Council approved having a sharps disposal receptacle proposal reviewed by staff.