Human Services

Global Menu

Human Services

Director: Jennifer Johnson

Sharps kits: FAQs

Why are you doing a needle pickup program?
Needles are a public health and safety nuisance. We want to support community members who want to lend a hand to clean up the local environments. 

Why isn’t the County already picking up the needles?
We are – Our litter crew cleans along county right of way, and law enforcement and park rangers do what they can to keep parks and other county facilities clean. We can’t be everywhere, though, so these kits are designed for community members who want to clean up their communities.

Is there another way to address the drug problem, rather than just picking up needles?
Needles are a public health and safety nuisance, and we want to reduce the risk to our community. Solving the opioid crisis in Skagit County, let alone in Washington State, is a multifaceted issue. We are working closely with our community of medical professionals; prevention, treatment, and social support systems, schools, families and neighbors to develop a range of practical responses. Cleaning up needles is one small part of a much bigger project.

Picking up needles can be dangerous. What happens if someone accidentally gets poked?
Yes – Picking up needles can be dangerous, so people should take proper precautions and use extreme care. Improperly discarded needles are a health and safety nuisance, and that’s exactly what these kits aim to prevent.  Each kit contains gloves and a needle pickup tool (like tongs) to avoid direct contact with the needle.  Those who receive a kit will also receive instructions for how to appropriately pick up the needle. People should consult their medical provider if a needle poke occurs.

How can I get a kit?
For the first six months we will dispense kits and collect sharps containers at our Public Health offices in downtown Mount Vernon. We will contact the Concrete Resource Center and let them know about the kits to ensure distribution to east county. During this pilot program, interested individuals and agencies can come to Public Health to pick up a kit.

What happens when I fill up my container?
You’ll return it to Public Health.  The Needle Clean-up kits are the responsibility of Environmental Health. Front-office staff will be trained how to engage with the public and collect necessary information.

Who else is getting kits? Are you working with other cities and agencies to give out kits?
For the first six months we will dispense kits and collect sharps containers at our Public Health offices in downtown Mount Vernon. We are considering ongoing partnerships with cities, local law enforcement and parks departments – but first we have to determine the effectiveness of this six-month pilot project.

How long will needle pickup kits be available?
This is a pilot program. We have 100 kits that we intend to distribute for a period of six months, or until all kits have been given out. Research shows that while the kits go out the door rapidly, the return time has been much slower. 

How much is this going to cost?
This is a pilot program, and we currently have funding and staff capacity for 100 kits.