Hundreds of used needles recovered in front of a house on Ewing Avenue
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “Living on a busy street, you never know what you’re going to find in your yard," said Pam LaPierre, who had no idea there was medical waste right in front of her home, where she has lived with her two dogs for years. She just saw an Arm & hammer detergent container on the street-- later smashed by a passing car.
“I thought about going and picking it up today and all of the sudden it was gone,” she said.
It was full of used needles, which were scattered all over the street. Neighbors contacted AIDS Ministries' Outreach Program, which cleans up medical waste, like syringes.
“We recovered one-hundred and ninety-eight used needles,” Stephanie Wolfe, Director of Prevention and Outreach at AIDS Ministires, told ABC57, which left LaPierre concerned.
“This is a family area; that’s considered to be a biohazard," she said. "It makes me pretty uncomfortable to see this in front of my home.”
LaPierre only found out about the needles when she was shown dozens of syringe caps and crushed glass from an insulin vial outside her house.
Wolfe said that while needles can be found all over, they usually don't find so many during a recovery. She warned that if people do find used needles, they should avoid picking them up, and should instead call authorities-- or AIDS Ministries directly-- so they can be properly disposed of.
"Anything a person is using a needle for is coming into contact with their blood and body fluids, then you risk all kinds of infections," she said. "Our street outreach team is trained to deal with how to pick up any substance abuse items or paraphernalia.”
Wolfe added that if people need to dispose of their medical waste, they should consult their doctor, or-- if they are in need-- they can go to AIDS Ministries.
“If they need help disposing of it, we will dispose of it," she said. "We’d much rather have that than have it end up on the streets.”
Full disclosure: Pam LaPierre works for ABC57 in the Sales department, though she was completely unaware of the needles until a neighbor contacted the newsroom, which brought us to her door.