Louisville Magazine

AUG 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.16 33 e Louisville Metro Syringe Exchange is set to open at 3 p.m. Not 2:58. Not 2:59. Open the door, peek your head in, beg for service early because of work or a flight out of town — no luck. On this bright and steamy June afternoon, doors open when the clock stiffens its posture into a perfect 90-degree angle. Such rigidity can spark tempers. Matthew La Rocco, who runs the exchange, endures occasional rants. "at's just wrong, man!" one flustered visitor argued. But La Rocco has his reasons — enforcing boundaries, clients working through frustration and reconciling anger. "It's teaching them good recovery principles and they don't know they're being taught," he says in a rare moment between clients. Let's take a step back, though. e exchange, which marked its one-year anniversary in June, isn't a recovery or treatment center. Its intent is to take in used needles, pass out clean ones, prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases and educate folks about how to sober up if they're ready. (e exchange also offers hepatitis C and HIV testing. In the first year, it tested close to 700 people for the diseases and referred 203 for hepatitis C treatment, 10 for HIV treatment.) While La Rocco is strict about certain rules, once inside the large white van stationed outside the Metro health department's downtown office, he has the gentle, outgoing demeanor of a pastor (which he is) and the patience of a substance-abuse counselor (which he is). It's rare that any arm of the government is prone to hugs. But La Rocco's known to offer an embrace to those who really seem to need it. Like when a young, tired woman's round and sunken eyes tear up as she talks about an accidental overdose that led to a miscarriage. "I feel so guilty," she says. "I want to get clean." La Rocco hands over his business card. "Call me anytime. We'll talk." en: "Can I give you a hug before you leave?" From the outside, the former mobile dental van is clinical, with its pictures of smiling mothers, nurses and children cliftoncenter.org CALL 502.625.0100 The best read on the city. JULY 2016 $4.70 Subscribe Now $22/year

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