Take Back Santa Cruz

County Syringe Services 2017 Biennial Report: Improvements Made, Still Work to Be Done

As required by California State Health and Safety Codes, Santa Cruz County has made available to the public the 2017 SSP Biennial Report which will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 6th – 1:30pm. (Item 92 on the Agenda)

Increased Transparency and Accountability

After the County buried its 2015 SSP Biennial Report (video) in a budget hearing with no notice to the public, Take Back Santa Cruz’s Needles Solutions Team (“NST”) insisted the County comply with California Health & Safety Code requirements that the public be given notice and ample opportunity to comment on the report and the needle exchanges negative impacts to the community. This time around the County Health Services Agency (“HSA”) gave advance notice to the public both on the Board of Supervisor’s website, and on the HSA’s Facebook page. This came after a May 16, 2017 Board directive that staff “communicate with the Needles Solutions Team and other stakeholders about the plan to present the 2015-2017 biennial SSP report at the June 6, 2017 meeting.”

Phase 3 of the SSP Eliminates Exceptions to 1 to 1 Exchange

County Health is proposing that it discontinue the allowance of additional syringes due to Medical or First Encounter exceptions. SSP clients asking for more needles would instead be referred to County clinic sites for medical evaluation. Clients would then “become patients of the clinics for ongoing primary care, specialty care, mental health and substance use disorder services.” 

Phase 3 of the SSP Puts More Emphasis on Drug Treatment

The Health & Safety Code requires that needle exchanges be part of a greater network of treatment for drug addicts. In our monthly reports, we have noted that the County consistently fails to adequately bring SSP clients into treatment (1%), and fails to offer them drug education (4%). As noted above, the HSA intends to refer more clients to mental health and substance abuse services. Furthermore, the HSA is to seek additional available funding to “enhance the SSP as a substance use disorder intervention program to support SSP clients in recovery” and to participate in statewide and local initiatives to address the opioid epidemic.

Number of Syringes Collected?

The HSA continues to convert its kiosk weights into “number of syringes collected” in an effort to inflate its numbers. The HSA does not address ongoing concerns about how needles are actually “counted” for exchange purposes.

Missing from the Report


Needle Exchange or Needle Supply?

Where are all the needles coming from?

Concerned About “Syringe Services Program” Impacts on the Community?

Here’s What You Can Do:

Email your local leaders by June 6, 2017:

The Board of Supervisors email addresses are:

John Leopold <john.leopold@co.santa-cruz.ca.us>
Zach Friend <zach.friend@co.santa-cruz.ca.us>
Ryan Coonerty <ryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us>
Greg Caput <greg.caput@co.santa-cruz.ca.us>
Bruce McPherson <bruce.mcpherson@co.santa-cruz.ca.us>

County Health:

Giang Nguyen <Giang.Nguyen@santacruzcounty.us>
Arnold Leff <Arnold.Leff@santacruzcounty.us>
County Administrative Officer:
Susan Mauriello <Susan.Mauriello@santacruzcounty.us>

 Attend the Board of Supervisors Meeting:
Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 1:30pm
701 Ocean Street, Room 525
Santa Cruz, CA

Download (PDF, 8.46MB)




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