Prevention Point distributed 4,797,776 syringes in Kensington – in 1 Year

Needle Drop Box at McPherson Square Park / Juniata News File Photo

When Shannon Farrell, President of the Harrowgate Civic Association, heard rumors that some residents met with Jose Benitez, Executive Director of Prevention Point, to discuss the needles that our communities overrun with, the outcome sounded good. It was said that Benitez offered to reduce the number of needles that Prevention Point gives out by 100,000 per year.

“This made me ask the question, how many needles does Prevention Point give out since Jose was very quick to reduce it by such as large number,” wrote Farrell in an email to the Harrowgate Civic Association membership.

She decided to simply email the city and ask how many needles are distributed by Prevention Point.  Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Philadelphia, replied with a startling number: “In the year ending June 30, 2020, Prevention Point distributed 4,797,776 syringes in Kensington, with an 87% collection rate.”

Farrell said that she figures that most people would expect that Prevention Point only gives out about 100,000 to 200,000 needles per year. With this number of over 4.7 million needles handed out and an 87% collection rate, that leaves 623,710 uncollected needles for the community to deal with on the ground in just one year. These needles wind up in our streets, parks and school yards.

Needles litter our landscape. This one is outside the currently closed Dunkin Donuts at Erie/Torresdale. They are sharp and dangerous to everyone. / Photo: T. Lineman / Juniata News

Glastein also offered the following additional statistics:

  • Housing: 209 people in emergency housing and 2,000 individuals engaged through outreach
  • Overdose Prevention: 11,395 free doses of Narcan distributed; 3,005 overdose trainings; 278 overdose reversals performed by PPP staff
  • Public Restroom Usage (Hepatitis A prevention): 89,493 uses
  • Drug Treatment Referrals: 678
  • Medically Assisted Treatment/Recovery Visits: 1,888
  • Mail services provided for 4,000 individuals experiencing housing insecurity. The number of mailboxes increased by 285% shortly after COVID-19 began.

These numbers pale in comparison to the 47 million needles. Farrell asked, “If PP is not providing millions of doses of Narcan, millions of bathroom uses and millions of drug treatment recommendations on a yearly basis, how then can the city continue to support the distribution of millions of drug needles in the same year in our community? The answer to that question is you shouldn’t be.”

If you want to find a needle on the ground in Kensington or Harrowgate, it won’t take long. The Harrowgate Civic Association sponsored the clean-up of a lot at Madison and Emerald Streets, and a bucket and grabber were used to collect a bunch of them.

Farrell has spoken to drug dealers. “They have told me that their clientele receives their drug paraphernalia from PP. And that they will send users to PP for the purpose of getting them needles to hand out to the drug users who drive into our community.”

The Harrowgate Civic Association has been fighting for a safer neighborhood for many years. Drug dealers + drug users = violence in our neighborhoods. Many of the victims of this violence have been innocent bystanders on the street, driving by in their cars, playing on their porches, and enjoying life in their homes. The bullets don’t discriminate. That led Farrell to ask one more question of Gladstein. “Since we are talking about numbers let me throw a number at you. The number one. Because that is the number in which our district ranks in homicides. Why do you think that is?” 

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