The Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health has voted unanimously to establish a county-operated needle exchange program.
Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Director Howard Gamble tells local media that the program, conducted in partnership with Northwood Health System, could open as early as Friday, thanks to the Tuesday vote.
The new health regulation establishes a one-for-one exchange, in which a person could turn in one used needle and receive one sterile syringe at no cost from a health department employee. Northwood Health System's Eoff Street facility will be used as the exchange site one day a week.
An increase in drug use in the community and in needles being discarded improperly prompted officials to consider a safe exchange program.
Cabell County launched the state's first needle exchange program earlier this month.