Louisville expands harm reduction efforts with installation of syringe disposal boxes in three parks
Syringe disposal boxes can now be found in Portland, Shelby and Boone Square parks. The boxes were recently installed to prevent the spread of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C in the Louisville Metro community. On the boxes, people can also find contact information for the Harm Reduction Outreach Services Program at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW).
“Harm reduction is about meeting people where they are and providing resources that help keep people healthy and safe,” said Ben Goldman, community health administrator at LMPHW. “Like syringe services programs, community syringe disposal programs are an evidence-based intervention that reduces the risk of bloodborne illnesses and does not contribute to an increase in illegal drug use or crime.”
The syringe disposal boxes were installed through a partnership with LMPHW, Louisville Parks and Recreation and Metro Facilities. Metro Parks identified the three parks as locations where its staff routinely finds syringes.
"Louisville Parks and Recreation is thankful to our partners at Public Health and Wellness for providing a valuable public service with the installation of syringe disposal boxes within three of our parks," said Parks Director Margaret Brosko. "This service ensures our parks are safer for the entire community, including our maintenance staff, who work in the parks daily.”
Additionally, the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association called for a disposal box in Shelby Park, and Metro Councilwoman Donna Purvis requested boxes for Portland and Boone Square parks.
“I’ve been advocating for these syringe disposal boxes in parks for months,” said Purvis (D-5). “Children and families should be kept safe while playing in Metro Parks, and this is just another way to ensure their protection. Thank you, Metro Parks, LMPHW and Metro Facilities, for taking action and installing these disposal boxes.”
“The safety of our youngest population is crucial,” said Metro Council President David James (D-6). “This is just another step in the right direction to protect children, families, and all park users from syringes in parks. I’m hopeful the disposal boxes will be used to help further protect the community.”
Two syringe disposal boxes are currently standing in the community at LMPHW’s headquarters at 400 E. Gray St. and outside The Salvation Army, located along S. Brook and E. Breckinridge St. It is estimated that every year, anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 syringes are disposed of at the Gray St. location. Once syringes are placed in a box, they cannot be accessed by anyone except the authorized waste disposal team.
If you find a used syringe, the following are steps you can take to safely discard it.
- Do not touch the metal part of the needle (the sharp end).
- If possible, use heavy-duty gloves, tongs or a tissue to grab the syringe by the barrel (the middle section).
- Keep the needle pointing down and away from you when holding the syringe.
- Place the syringe, with the sharp side facing down, into a syringe disposal box or heavy plastic container like an empty sports drink bottle, laundry detergent or bleach container.
- Bring the container to a Harm Reduction Outreach Services site or an outdoor disposal box.
For more information about Louisville’s Harm Reduction Outreach Services Program and overdose prevention, visit the “Harm Reduction” webpage at louisvilleky.gov.
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ABOUT LOUISVILLE METRO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW) is a nationally accredited, independent, academic health department committed to achieving health equity and improving the health and well-being of all Louisville residents and visitors.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION
Louisville Parks and Recreation, a nationally accredited parks and recreation agency, manages 120 parks and six parkways on more than 13,000 acres of land and operates recreation programs for area residents of all ages and abilities. Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Greg Fischer has been committed to ensuring equity in parks and recreation, including the start of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative, the Louisville’s Engaging Children Outdoors (ECHO) programming and most recently, becoming the third city in the country to launch an equity review of all Metro-owned parks and facilities. bestparksever.com