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Jessica Kelly, a Berkshire Harm Reduction staff member, explains the program and its services to the Lanesborough Board of Health on Tuesday.

Lanesborough Board of Health Supports Adding Mobile Harm Reduction Services

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Health would like to bring mobile harm-reduction services to the town.

The panel had a presentation from Berkshire Harm Reduction, formerly Healthy Steps, on Tuesday and the organization requested that Lanesborough join its traveling syringe services and more program.

A special meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 12, so that the board can take a formal vote.

Members were prepared to approve it during Tuesday's meeting but feared that the town counsel would not accept the decision because it was not indicated on the agenda. The meeting's agenda vaguely stated "Berkshire Harm Reduction."

This will give residents a chance to provide feedback if they please.

Berkshire Harm Reduction is a program within Berkshire Medical Center and is supported by the state Department of Public Health.

The Harm Reduction Mobile Unit travels to locations throughout the region for safe syringe exchange,  overdose prevention, testing, risk reduction education, basic wound care, and more services. The goal of the traveling unit is to reach areas where transportation may be challenging for a client.

Participating communities include Adams, Great Barrington, North Adams, Pittsfield and Williamstown.

"We have an RV, a mobile unit that we're trying to get to go to communities around Berkshire County to offer our services, we have a pretty extensive list of services and the first one I have here on my list of things to talk about is safe syringe disposal and distribution,"  staff member Jessica Kelly explained.

"That is one of the most important things that we offer because a lot more people in the community have injectable drugs that they have prescriptions for and they have no way to access any of our offices, so I think the mobile unit will be useful for a lot of that.

"We carry sharps containers which are good to hand out and then there are a lot of our clients that are in an active drug addiction who need access to these syringes to help stop the spread of diseases like HIV and Hep C."

Kelly added that the town's senior center, which the board meets in, would be a great access point because seniors may have syringes for injectable prescriptions that need to be disposed of.

Chair Lawrence Spatz thought it a great idea to incorporate the programming into the community to mitigate harm.  

After the board takes a vote to accept the mobile health unit in Lanesborough, it will have to send a local control letter to the state's Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Services with a copy of certified minutes that show a vote was taken in support.

After this, the DPH will have to approve it, which Kelly said takes about 30 days.

In other news, Spatz reported that the Selectmen will allow the BOH to include a trash and recycling questionnaire in the upcoming tax bill.

To reach more respondents, there will be an option to respond to the survey virtually.

The panel wants residents' opinions on the current services offered in Lanesborough for trash and recycling.  The town does not provide trash or recycling pickup and there are four nearby refuse haulers that are permitted to do so.

Board members feel that options for local recycling are limited, as the most popular hauler does not offer the service. Lanesborough does have a recycling center on Maple Court that operates from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Tags: harm reduction,   sharps, syringes,   

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Long Vehicles Banned from Mount Greylock Roads

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Members of DCR told the Mount Greylock Advisory Council that in most cases vehicles longer than 22 feet will no longer be allowed to traverse the roads to the summit.
"I think overall everyone will be pleased with the way this came out, and it will fix a lot of problems for us," Mark Jester, mountain district manager for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, said. 
The councilors at their last meeting had talked about concerns they had with school buses and other long vehicles navigating the tricky summit roads. They drafted a letter to the state that contained safety concerns as well as maintenance worries with larger, heavier vehicles using the narrow road.
"We want people to be able to travel safely. With the steepness and all of the curves, it is difficult and unsafe," Jester said. "You go around a blind corner and here comes a bus over the top of you."
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