Board of Health approves safe needle exchange program, budget

The Christian County Board of Health approved moving forward with establishing a safe needle exchange program in the county at Monday’s meeting and heard a COVID-19 update.

The safe needle exchange program would be operated by the Christian County Health Department and would need approval from both Christian Fiscal Court and Hopkinsville City Council to take place.  Public Health Director Kayla Bebout says similar programs in surrounding counties have shown vast success in helping to cut down on illnesses related to using unclean needles.

A needle exchange allows a drug user to take used needles to a predetermined location to exchange them for clean replacements.  Emily Greene says the program isn’t to enable users but is a way to get those users in contact with resources to overcome the addiction while preventing the spread of disease.

After a lengthy discussion, the motion to start establishment of the program passed unanimously. Giving an update on COVID-19, Bebout says there are now 159 confirmed cases total in Christian County—four new cases since Saturday—35 of those cases are active and 121 people have recovered.  Board chair Dr. John Heltsey says as a thank you to the employees of the department, they were looking to give bonuses in thanks for their extended hours and stress due to the pandemic.

The raises were approved unanimously.  In other action, the board approved a $4.2 million budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, which does not include an increase to the tax rate on motor vehicles or personal property, which will remain at 3.2 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value.