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Whether to keep the Tippecanoe Co. Needle Exchange Program

The IU Health mobile exchange unit location announcement comes at a crucial time for the program.

Posted: Nov. 20, 2017 6:26 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — IU Health Arnett is offering a once a month location for the mobile needle exchange unit in Tippecanoe County.

The announcement comes at a crucial time for the program.

"It is probably one of the most difficult decisions that I have had to make in my entire government career," said Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tracy Brown. 


It's been a year since commissioners approved a needle exchange program in Tippecanoe County, 2-1.

"I'm not a proponent of this program," said Commissioner Tom Murtaugh.

He is especially against where it is currently located at 629 N. Sixth St.

"We need to have a date for that neighborhood on when it is going to be terminated," said Murtaugh. 

Many hoped the new mobile unit site at IU Health Arnett in the 1500 block of Salem Street in Lafayette would be enough to get rid of the current Sixth Street location, but that's not the case.

"We're still looking," said Health Administrator Craig Rich. 

The mobile unit will be parked in the lot at IU Health one Saturday per month.

"We're just so excited to have another location and we can start you know, branching out," said Rich. "I think that's what the community wants."

The announcement of the mobile unit site comes at an important time. On Dec. 4, commissioners will decide whether to keep the needle exchange program.

Commissioner Tracy Brown said he's voting yes. Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said he's voting no. Therefore, it's up to Commissioner Dave Byers to make the final decision. 

"Right now, I'm still undecided," said Byers.  "I mean yes, I voted for it the first time. I think there's some interesting facts that are coming out, which I think are encouraging, but I also know there is a lot of disgruntledness going on out there."

Byers said it all depends on what is presented to him during the next commissioners meeting.

"I don't want everybody saying yeah, we like it, but not in my yard," said Byers. "I want some hard facts and hard figures and then we can go from there."

Times and an exact start date for the mobile needle exchange unit at IU Health have yet to be decided.

The North Sixth Street location will remain open every Friday from 1 to 3:30 in the afternoon.

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