By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) – A second attempt to implement a pilot program for a supervised drug injection site in Denver is in the works. At a public hearing Wednesday, Denver City Council listened to dozens of people expressing support for the program.
“When you look at the science, it is compelling and it is indisputable that this will save lives. That this will prevent hepatitis and HIV, which cost our taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for each case that someone has,” said Dr. Don Stader, an emergency medical physician at Swedish Medical Center.
Stader said he is among many in the medical field who believe the pilot program will be successful.
“I cannot overstate our support, and if you look at it across the board, we have not only the support of our local chapter of the Denver Medical Society, but of the World Health Organization, of the American Medical Association National Chapter and of my chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians,” he said.
Council Members listened to one parent who had lost a son, a business owner and former addicts — all in favor of the program.
If passed, the bill states that the pilot program will be governed by the Board of Public Health and Environment and run by the Harm Reduction Action Center, a nonprofit group.
CBS4 sat down with a former addict-turned advocate who shares the opinion of many others, the site would not only save lives, but save money.
Cuica Montoya has been sober for more than three years and says if the site existed when she was using, “It would’ve decreased my financial drain on the city. I was considered indigent so I didn’t have any insurance, where does that money go? The city eats that cost.”
Some council members expressed concern about being the first city to implement such a site. Denver is among several cities with similar bills in the works including Philadelphia and Seattle.
It is proposed to last for two years, and it’s passage is contingent upon state legislation authorizing the operation of sites in Colorado.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.