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Public Health Emergency Declared For Monroe County
Updated December 23, 2015 7:13 AM | Filed under: Health
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(MONROE CO.) - State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., Wednesday declared a public health emergency for Monroe County, allowing the county health department to establish a syringe exchange program as part of a broader effort to reduce the spread of hepatitis C.

"Monroe County is experiencing an epidemic of hepatitis C tied to intravenous drug use," said Dr. Adams. "The syringe exchange is part of a comprehensive approach that will connect residents with treatment, healthcare and other services critical to improving their health and halting the spread of disease."
Senate Enrolled Act 461 made syringe exchange programs legal in Indiana for the first time. The law sets forth the procedural and substantive requirements that local communities must meet in order for an emergency declaration to be considered by the state health commissioner.  
Steps in the process for local communities:

  • Local health officer must:
  • Declare that an epidemic of Hepatitis C or HIV exists
  • Determine that it is primarily transmitted through IV drug use
  • Deem that a syringe exchange program is medically appropriate as part of a comprehensive response
  County commissioners must:
  • Hold a public hearing
  • Take official action adopting the declarations of the local health officer (above)
  • Describe other actions taken regarding the epidemic that have proven ineffective
  • Request a public health emergency declaration from the state
  By declaring this public health emergency, the state health commissioner concurs with the declarations of the local health officer and county commissioners. By law, specific aspects of design and implementation of the program are left to local officials. No federal or state funding is appropriated for syringe exchange programs.   The declaration of public health emergency will run through Dec. 21, 2016. Dr. Adams has previously declared public health emergencies in Fayette, Madison and Scott counties.   For questions regarding the syringe exchange program, contact Kathy Hewett at the Monroe County Health Department at (812) 349-2722.   Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook

Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan--HIP 2.0--by visiting or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.

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