For the last four years, Queen City Needle Exchange has handed out free sterile syringes and the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone. The group sets up at different clinics in the Charlotte area throughout the week and also operates a mobile unit.
Now it will have a permanent home, thanks in part to a $275,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address the opioid crisis.
"We want people to feel like they have a home from wherever they're coming from in the community," said Lauren Kestner with the Centers for Prevention Services, which runs Queen City Needle Exchange.
Kestner said the center also plans to offer support groups, wound care and rapid testing for diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV, which can be transmitted by dirty needles.
From January 2019 to November 2019, 589 emergency room visits in Mecklenburg County were from opioid overdoses. Kestner says the organization hopes to find a location in southwest Charlotte with a goal of opening in March.