Jeremy Wigfield of Street Health shows how the new sharps disposal box works on Pelissier in Windsor, September 13, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown, Blackburn News.

Sharps Disposal Unit Operational Downtown

There is now a safe place for people to dispose of used needles in the downtown area.

On Wednesday, the Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre formally unveiled a special 24-hour kiosk for needles and related drug paraphernalia, located outside their Street Health Centre on Pelissier in the downtown core.  The kiosk is designed for those people who use needles, syringes, and other related items to safely dispose of them at any time.

The kiosk is part of an effort between the city of Windsor, the WECHC, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Windsor Police, and various law enforcement agencies and healthcare systems to address a rising tide of opioid use across the country.

WECHC executive director Patrick Brown says the placement of the 24/7 kiosk at Street Health is ideal considering the high concentration of needle use and littering in the downtown core.

“This area has seen a high rate of 311 calls for needles and syringes in public areas,” says Brown. “The unit will provide a safe method of disposing these items, protecting our vulnerable patients against the harmful effects of reusing needles and syringes.”

The discarded paraphernalia is also a public health issue, according to Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin, whose district includes the downtown core. He says his office has received multiple complaints about used needles on the streets and believes the first kiosk will make a difference.

“If we put out five or six, we can get rid of well over 100,000 needles that are ending up in alleys, in people’s yards, and in garbages,” says Bortolin. “It’s an important first step and shows that there’s action happening.”

The kiosk was first placed outside Street Health last week, and the WECHC says over 500 needles, syringes and related items so far have been disposed of safely.

A good portion of Street Health’s clientele consists of people who are homeless, at-risk of being homeless, or transients, according to its official webpage. Street Health is staffed with nurses and nurse practitioners, community health workers, medical secretaries, and even a volunteer chiropractor and dental hygienist.