SAEP Mobile Exchange Units Kick Off

By Doug Thomas, Program Manager, Clinical Services

On July 24, 2018, both of our Syringe Access Exchange Program (SAEP) Mobile Units opened for operation. Planning and work for these units was conducted far in advance of their actual start date. A team from the Health Department — consisting of staff from multiple divisions — along with key community partners were involved in the planning and smooth transition to operation. The Kentucky Fire Commission graciously agreed to provide their mobile command center for use and St. Elizabeth Healthcare provided parking lot locations for us to operate.

Our nurses on the SAEP Mobile Units exchange sterile needles and equipment for contaminated equipment to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.  They also offer HIV testing, Hepatitis A vaccination, and naloxone overdose reversal kits to participants.  Other services include health education and referrals to other health care services including substance use treatment.

The SAEP Mobile Units operate 1-4 p.m. on the following days and times each week:

  • Tuesday – Campbell County SAEP mobile unit is in the parking lot of St. Elizabeth Urgent Care, 1400 N. Grand Ave., Newport, Ky.
  • Thursday – Kenton County SAEP mobile unit is in the parking lot of Elizabeth Healthcare, 1500 James Simpson Jr. Way, Covington, Ky.

The mobile units have many moving pieces that have to be put into place each week to ensure that quality services are provided. For each day that a mobile SAEP operates, supplies must be packaged, loaded into a van, unloaded at each site, set up on the mobile unit, then broken down, loaded into the van and, finally, unloaded at the health center. Staff working on the SAEP units has this down to a science and it continually amazes me that they successfully complete this twice a week, every week.

NKY Health staff has accepted the unique challenges of providing services in a mobile environment and have never complained. They have always kept the focus on the client and the Health Department’s mission no matter the challenges they face. What do they enjoy about working on the mobile unit? Catherine Drees-Dibello, RN at KCHC, gives us a clue. “Helping to keep our participants safe from a communicable disease and being there for them, when they feel ready to move into a recovery program,” said Catherine.

Mobile units success is represented below:

Data as of 9/8/2018