Mercer Commissioners budgeting for opioid fight - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Mercer Commissioners budgeting for opioid fight


The U.S. has been in the grips of an opioid epidemic for several years now, and it's been said that Mercer County is in the heart of Appalachia's fight against the epidemic.

Mercer County Commissioners are in the process of approving the next fiscal budget. Commissioners realize that fighting the county's opioid epidemic takes some funding. Commissioner Greg Puckett knows turning a blind eye will not fix the problem. "Mercer County is still under a Hepatitis C statewide advisory, and is also one of 220 counties nationwide... one of seven in West Virginia... that are at risk for an HIV outbreak."
Puckett points to the use of used, dirty needles as a major culprit. He says Mercer will be partnering with Wyoming and Summers Counties on a new mobile unit to provide needle exchanges. "Personally, if you ask me, I think a needle exchange program is extremely important. Not necessarily because we're trying to supply needles to somebody who might be having a substance abuse disorder, but really it's about driving down the disease component."
With Hepatitis and other viruses being so widespread in Mercer County, Commissioner Puckett would like to see more awareness brought to the services the health department provides. "We are going to try to put more money back into the marketing and education of the health department, to let people know what's there. And we're also going to try to get some more, in terms of just basic public health."

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