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Syringe Exchange 

Thank you for your interest on the Safe Syringe Initiative offered through Orange County Health Department! Here, you will find details of our programs simple operations, resources, and statistics.

Frequently Asked Questions 


Q: Do you collect demographics on patients enrolled in the program? 
A: No.  Orange County feels it’s important to build trust with every client seeking our services.  We do not collect demographics on any clients seeking syringe exchange materials.  Any client who requests syringes will receive them, no questions asked. 

Q: Are clients formally enrolled in your program? 
A: No, we provide clean syringes to anyone who asks for them.  No enrollment or proof of residency required. 

Q: Where do you distribute syringes? 
A: Clean syringes are distributed at the front desk window of both medical clinics.  We also keep clean syringe kits in clinic for clients who may confide in their provider and express a need. 

Q: What do you put in your safe syringe kits? 
A: Each kit contains 20 syringes and the required state patient education.  Some kits have FIT packs, FDA personal sharps containers.  Clients have a choice of kit with or without the FIT container. 

Q: How are syringes returned?
A: We were fortunate enough to buy a large syringe return bins for the front lobbies of our two buildings.  Our program would be successful without this larger, more expensive bin.  Smaller or portable bins would suffice.  Additionally, front desk staff have a portable sharps container on the rare chance clients bring their syringes to the window.  We have found that most clients box or package their syringes in laundry bottles prior to returning.
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Q: Do you require clients to return syringes to receive syringes, i.e., 1:1 syringe return? 
A: No, evidence suggests this is more harmful and an ineffective way to operate an exchange.

Q: What training was required for staff?
A: All staff had input into the policy development.  Training on program operations were provided to all staff.  Front desk staff received additional OSHA training on safe handling and blood borne pathogens as a precaution. 

Q: What outcomes data do you track? 
A: We track the data required for state reporting as outlined in HB972.  We track the number of kits distributed (20 syringes per kit), the number of naloxone kits distributed, the number of clients who seek referrals to mental health and/or substance abuse programs or other community resources.   Lastly, we track the number of syringes returned using the state recommended formula of 281 syringes per pound returned. 

Q: Did you create a new safety and security policy to include your safe syringe initiative?
A: No, we did not recreate a policy.  We used our existing safety plan and policy.

Resources