Plans to treat recovering hospital patients next to vulnerable residents spark coronavirus concerns

PUBLISHED: 08:31 09 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:16 09 May 2020

Benjamin Court in Cromer. Inset: Duncan Baker. Pictures: Archant

Benjamin Court in Cromer. Inset: Duncan Baker. Pictures: Archant


Plans to house patients potentially recovering from coronavirus in a building next to sheltered housing residents has sparked safety fears.

Benjamin Court. Pictures: David BaleBenjamin Court. Pictures: David Bale

Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C) plans to use a reablement unit at Benjamin Court, in Cromer, for up to 18 patients, a number of whom may be recovering from Covid-19.

The unit was formally opened in May 2018, but has not been used since later that year. It is on the same site, and is connected by a corridor, to 30 one-bedroom assisted living flats, which are home to a number of elderly and vulnerable people.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said it “worried him greatly” that the unit had to be used.

Mr Baker said: “I would be the first person to say that in any ordinary time I wouldn’t want to see Benjamin Court being used in this way - it’s a last resort and it worries me greatly that we’ve had to use it. But I understand the situation that we’re in.”

Duncan Baker, north Norfolk MP. Picture: Stuart AndersonDuncan Baker, north Norfolk MP. Picture: Stuart Anderson

An NCH&C spokeswoman said when the unit was opened “in the coming weeks” the patients sent there would all be aged over 65.

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She said the health and safety of the nearby residents was of “utmost importance” and an infection prevention and control (IPAC) team had visited the site “numerous times”.

She said: “This wing is separate to the sheltered housing wing and will be for people leaving an acute hospital, some of whom, but not all, may have had coronavirus.”

Food supply, entrances and waste management and garden spaces would completely separated, and no staff who look after residents would work with the recovering patients.

A letter sent to residents from Kate Pontin, NCH&C’s deputy director of integration, said a new digital lock would be installed on the connecting door in the corridor between the flats and the recovery unit to prevent accidental entry from either side.

Diana Mavroleon, whose 87-year-old mother lives in one of the flats, said all Benjamin Court staff should be tested for Covid-19, and questioned whether the unit should be used at all.

She said: “There is no resident at Benjamin Court who is not vulnerable.”

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