The Claremont school board voted Wednesday to allow a needle exchange program to operate at Valley Regional Hospital. The program needed board sign-off because of the hospital’s proximity to a local elementary zone.
Students at Dartmouth’s medical school will staff the exchange, which will likely open this fall or winter, said Valley Regional CEO Peter Wright.
It’s one of only a handful of programs to crop up across the state since New Hampshire legalized needle exchanges in 2017 in an effort to reduce the spread of infectious disease.
Efforts in Claremont initially hit roadblocks because of a legal requirement around not operating within drug-free school zones. The law was amended this year to allow local school officials to grant exemptions to that requirement.
“This was successful, in the end, because there was a strong relationship and mutual trust between the school board and the hospital,” Wright said.