Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jill Keys, August 22, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Personal background

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Partial Transcript: Okay, today is Wednesday, August 22nd and I'm here interviewing Jill Keys at the Lexington Health Department.

Segment Synopsis: Jill Keys is introduced. She talks about her education and career path. She talks about her work at the Lexington Health Department. She talks about her awareness of opioids when she started her career. She talks about her focus on health education. She discusses the shift in the way people think about vaccines.

Keywords: Careers; Children; Clinical services officers; Director of clinical services; Early childhood education; Education degrees; Fathers; Health departments; Mothers; Nursing degrees; Occupations; Opioids; Public health clinics; Public health education; School health; Southeastern Kentucky; Vaccinations

Subjects: Nurses.; Nursing.; Public health nurses.; Public health nursing.; Public health.

00:06:44 - Learning about the needle exchange

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Partial Transcript: Um, so how did you--you know, what is your connection to the needle exchange?

Segment Synopsis: Jill Keys talks about how the job of running the needle exchange fell into her lap when she became Director of Clinical Services at Lexington's Health Department. She describes not really knowing anything about how a needle exchange operates, spending a lot of time observing the process and talking with people that use the program. She says that there are very, very few people that do not know someone that has been affected by the opioid crisis. She describes being shocked and not knowing what to expect her first day at the program. She describes completing a training program to learn how to exchange needles when clients come in. She talks about how clients are required to bring in used needles in order to get new needles. She also describes how many of the clients that come to exchange needles have jobs, and are wearing various work uniforms as they come into exchange needles on their lunch break. She stresses that the stereotype of the "drug user" is a false one.

Keywords: Needle exchange programs; Opioids

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse.; Opioid abuse

00:11:53 - Expanding the needle exchange and Narcan kits

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Partial Transcript: Um, when you took over directing the program, were there any changes that you made?

Segment Synopsis: Keys talks about holding work groups with users of the service to determine how they could improve the exchange. She discusses how they expanded the exchange's hours and days of operation, and included free Narcan kits and Narcan trainings, along with Hepatitis A vaccinations.

Keywords: Harm reduction; Intravenous drug use; Lexington (Ky.); Needle exchange programs

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse; Opioid abuse

00:19:28 - Stigma--A huge barrier to helping people

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Partial Transcript: Do you find, you know, working in public health, I feel like there are these societal shifts...

Segment Synopsis: Keys stresses that people are still afraid to say they've struggled with substance abuse, and that this stigma will continue to prevent public health providers from being able to help people. She also discusses what kinds of questions are asked when people come in to use the needle exchange, such as age, whether or not they know their HIV or Hepatitis C status, and whether or not they share needles.

Keywords: Lexington (Ky.); Needle exchange programs; Opioid use; Stigma

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse; Opioid abuse

00:33:52 - What's in a Narcan kit, and 200 people on average exchanging needles

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Partial Transcript: Um, what is the cost, I mean for the, for the Health Department at least, of a Narcan kit?

Segment Synopsis: Keys describes what comprises a Narcan kit (a nasal spray and two doses) and explains how they teach people how to administer the antidote. She also talks about how many people it takes to keep the needle exchange running, and says that on average over 200 people use the needle exchange each week.

Keywords: Health departments; Lexington (Ky.); Needle exchange programs; Opioid abuse; Public health

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse; Opioid abuse

00:40:22 - Hepatitis A outbreak in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, well, this is also--this is slightly--we're deviating from the opioids but, um--or maybe not, but what is the deal with Hepatitis A?

Segment Synopsis: Keys talks about how Kentucky has had a significant number of Hepatitis A cases, over one thousand as of summer 2018. She explains how a large portion of Hep A cases have been among people who use drugs intravenously, who share supplies with others without washing their hands.

Keywords: Health departments; Hepatitis A; Lexington (Ky.); Needle exchange programs; Opioid abuse; Public health

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse; Opioid abuse

00:45:06 - Consuming nature of working in public health

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Partial Transcript: Well, I think my last question--since that forty-five minutes blew by.

Segment Synopsis: Keys talks about how working in public health consumes one's everyday life, and about how the opioid crisis is a community issue that public health departments can't tackle alone. She stresses that there need to be more community partners involved in Lexington's health department.

Keywords: Health departments; Lexington (Ky.); Needle exchange programs; Opioid abuse; Public health

Subjects: Addiction in America; Intravenous drug abuse; Opioid abuse