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Equitas Health Harm Reduction Monitoring and Evaluation Grant Spotlight

May 05, 2023

With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in partnership with the University of Washington (UW), The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) provided funding and technical assistance to nine local health department (LHD) and community-based syringe services programs (SSPs) to support and strengthen monitoring and evaluation (M&E) efforts and systems with a funding opportunity entitled “Building Capacity for Harm Reduction Monitoring and Evaluation.”

Throughout the upcoming weeks, we’d like to highlight several of these sites and share successes and lessons learned from their M&E projects.

This week we’d like to focus on Equitas Health, another site awardee that used NACCHO’s resources to strengthen their harm reduction monitoring and evaluation efforts.

Equitas Health focuses on whole person healthcare. They strive to create an environment where patients feel safe to express every aspect of themselves. Equitas Health focuses on whole person healthcare. They strive to create an environment where patients feel safe to express every aspect of themselves. We talked with the staff within Safe Point, Equitas Health’s harm reduction program, to get a deeper understanding of what they have achieved through this grant.

“We conducted an n SSP participant feedback evaluation to examine accessibility of the program, quality and availability of services and supplies offered, and unmet health needs of participants,” said the Equitas Health representative. “We also collaborated with evaluation consultants at The Ohio State University to conduct analyses of Safe Point’s visit data and built staff capacity for data analysis through training in R and Tableau.”

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The team used the insights from this project to create a plan for how Equitas could improve its harm reduction program and services and to advocate for people who use drugs (PWUD) in the community.

“Our projects have helped to move forward our advocacy for new investments in harm reduction within our community including a larger SSP facility, the introduction of mobile syringe distribution, and a move toward the Best Practice needs-based syringe distribution model.”

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This project has also been brought to Equitas Health’s leadership in order to support investment in harm reduction monitoring and evaluation efforts.

When asked what lessons Equitas learned through this work, they responded, “in conducting interviews and focus group discussions with SSP participants, we found that performing surveys during normal program hours and offering incentives (i.e. gift cards) were key to successful recruitment.”

They also found that stakeholders preferred the qualitative data they gathered regarding participant experience.

“Supporting data with direct quotes and stories seemed to be very impactful in demonstrating and garnering support for the needs of PWUD in our community,” said Equitas.

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NACCHO’s harm reduction monitoring and evaluation grant yielded plenty of invaluable insights for Equitas Health. We look forward to watching their services expand as they make the most of this grant.

Contact Kat Kelley ([email protected]) with any questions about this project. If your organization is interested in free technical assistance to support harm reduction M&E, visit the National Harm Reduction Technical Assistance Center, which offers free help to anyone in the country providing (or planning to provide) harm reduction services to their community.


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