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New Syringe Collection Program in Lowell is Ready to Respond

 

Andres Gonzalez, Program Coordinator for the new Syringe Collection Program in Lowell, safely removes a needle that had been discarded in Armory Park. Photo courtesy of the Lowell Health Department.

Andres Gonzalez, Program Coordinator for the new Syringe Collection Program in Lowell, safely removes a needle that had been discarded in Armory Park. Photo courtesy of the Lowell Health Department.

Lowell, MA – The City of Lowell’s Syringe Collection Program, housed under the Substance Abuse and Prevention Division within the Lowell Health Department, began on April 19th, 2019. The Syringe Collection Program was created as a means to educate the community on the importance of safe and proper sharps storage and disposal, and to respond to discarded needle pick-up requests within Lowell. Within the first 16 days of the program, over 950 discarded syringes were removed from the community.

Andres Gonzalez, the Lowell Health Department’s Syringe Collection Program Coordinator, will be available to respond to discarded syringe pick-up requests between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; between 9:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesdays; and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Fridays. To report a discarded syringe found in the community during the Syringe Collection Program’s program hours, residents may call Andres directly at 978-674-1049. Residents will be asked to identify the address, specific location of the needle, and how many needles were found. While it may be helpful to leave a return call phone number in case more information is needed to locate the discarded syringe(s), the service is confidential and anonymous.

For discarded needle pick-up requests outside of program hours, residents may continue to call the Lowell Police Department non-emergency line at 978-937-3200. The Lowell Police Department will report the request to Trinity EMS; it is asked that residents do not call Trinity EMS directly to report a discarded needle.

The Syringe Collection Program Coordinator is also building relationships with community organizations to identify locations that discarded needles are frequently found and proactively clean discarded needles from public spaces. The Syringe Collection Program Coordinator will coordinate educational activities surrounding safe needle storage and disposal, and be available to support community clean-up efforts.

The Syringe Collection Program Coordinator is also available to educate community organizations, neighborhood groups, schools, and youth-serving agencies regarding the importance of avoiding sharps (such as lancets, syringes, EpiPens, and pen and pump needles) used for medical necessity in homes and needles discarded in public spaces, and the protocol in reporting discarded needles.

In addition, the Lowell Health Department has been provided a sharps disposal kiosk by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Sharps that are placed in a biohazard sharps container, known as a “Red Box”, or puncture proof container, such as a laundry detergent bottle, can be placed into the kiosk to be disposed of properly. The sharps disposal kiosk is for residential disposal only and cannot accommodate commercial disposal. The sharps disposal kiosk is available for use during the Lowell Health Department’s business hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesdays; and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Fridays. If participants do not have a puncture proof container, the Lowell Health Department will provide one free of charge.

More information can be found at www.LowellMA.gov or by calling 978-674-1049 or 978-674-4304.

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Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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