Source: The Herald, Everett, WA
Contact:   Wed, Dec 10, 1997


Emotional question settled by county with 96 vote to continue the program

By SHARON SALYER Herald Writer 

After hearing from a mother holding a baby who said she was a former drug
user and seeing a health care worker display a plastic tub holding 600
used syringes, the Snohomish Health District board voted Tuesday night to
indefinitely extend its needle excha nge program. 

The program allows intravenous drug abusers to exchange used and
potentially diseasecarrying needles and syringes for new ones. 

The program was reapproved on a 96 vote. The exchange is housed in an
building in downtown Everett near the former Providence Hospital, now
called Providence Pacific Clinic. 

Eleven people came to Tuesday's meeting to speak to board members about
the issue. No one spoke against it. 

One of the most emotional moments came when Ravenna Alexander of Everett
sat before the board holding her young child in her arms. 

"I used (the needle exchange) myself," she said. "When I was pregnant, I
cleaned up." 

Health workers at the needle exchange are "very supportive" she said. 

"When you want to stop and get help, they're there for you," Alexander