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Carbondale could become home to recovery center, syringe access program

Garfield County Commission, Glenwood Springs City Council hear plans from High Rockies Harm

Plans to build a recovery community center and syringe access program in Carbondale were presented to Glenwood City Council members during Thursday evening’s meeting.

Maggie Seldeen, founder and director of High Rockies Harm Reduction, presented information on her organization’s long term goal of establishing the recovery center and syringe access program facility.

Seldeen said the purpose of her presentation is to establish a collaborative relationship with the Glenwood Springs and other municipalities. Seldeen added that the long term plan also includes purchasing a mobile unit to provide services throughout the region.



Seldeen also gave a similar presentation to the Garfield County Commission during their March 8 meeting.

“We seek to expand access to necessary and evidence-based treatments and services for individuals who use substances and those living with or at-risk of acquiring communicable diseases. This mission is driven by a desire to reduce the stigma of substance use and behavioral health needs,” Seldeen said.



The current service vision of the organization is broken down into six-month increments over the next two years, with the ultimate goal of opening a fixed-site Recovery Community Center/Syringe Access Program in Carbondale by 2022.

Seldeen said the costs of building the facility in Carbondale and purchasing the mobile unit will be funded by a mixed revenue stream, including community donations and foundation and government grants. Seldeen said the organization will not be asking municipalities or counties for any funding.

The first six months involve advocacy, awareness and networking to build relationships within communities, according to the meeting presentation.

The second six months of the first year will involve acquiring a vehicle to serve as a mobile recovery resource unit, which will include syringe access and disposal, Narcan training and distribution, fentanyl test strip distribution, peer recovery support services, educational and informational literature and appropriate treatment referrals, such as MAT programs, in-patient rehabs, support groups, and other behavioral health services.

The mobile unit will serve Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties, as well as a small portion of Delta and Gunnison counties.

The second year of the service vision involves the implementation of the fixed site in Carbondale. The fixed site will provide the same services as the mobile unit, as well as support groups, social events, educational and professional development for members of both the recovery community and general public, HIV and Hepatitis testing and treatment referrals, other prevention materials and much more to address the goals of our mission.

The facility location will be downtown in a residential building within walking distance of the bus stop.

Seldeen provided data that showed a significant proportion of new HIV infections are attributed to needle injection drug use.

“Research has also conclusively shown that syringe access programs do not increase drug use or crime,” Seldeen said.

“These programs are supported by every major medical and public health organization in the U.S. and the world, including the American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and World Health Organization.”

Glenwood Springs city council members voted unanimously to approve a motion to write a letter of support for High Rockies Harm Reduction and their goals.

Garfield County Commissioners took no action following Seldeen’s presentation, though Commissioner Tom Jankovsky expressed concerns over having a facility where drug users exchange dirty syringes for new ones.

“Syringe exchange does not make me feel warm and fuzzy,” Jankovsky said.

“However it makes me feel as though we’re enabling drug users. Just want to put it out there. As someone who isn’t a drug user I don’t think I”m the only one that would say that.”

Commissioner John Martin said he hopes the funds aren’t eaten up by administrative costs and go towards the actual grassroots work instead.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.


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