Vulnerable community members have been walking around Melbourne’s inner-south east despite a COVID-19 outbreak occurring at the special accommodation facility in which they reside.
Up to five residents and one staff member at Hambleton House, an Albert Park facility for residents with mental health or behavioural conditions, have tested positive to COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed late on Saturday.
The manager of the facility slammed the Victorian Health Department for handling the outbreak “atrociously” and not evacuating ill patients from the home.
The residents have been attending local shops, pharmacies and other public places since the outbreak began, according to the manager and a local resident, both of whom did not want to be named.
“The Health Department has been saying the positive residents would be taken away but no one has been transported,” the manager said.
“They have been out in the community all day … at shops and cafes.”
“They haven’t transported positive patients …. It’s been 48 hours [since the outbreak was identified].”
A Health Department spokeswoman said the department was considering relocating some residents.
A security company was hired by Hambleton House, a government-supported service, to ensure residents quarantined but the manager said the solution was ineffective. Police arrived at the house to assist the security detail about 6pm on Saturday.
The Health Department spokeswoman said “the health and welfare of residents at Hambleton House remains a key priority following a recent outbreak at the facility”.
“We are increasing on-site support with additional staffing, security and authorised officers to ensure the proprietors can manage the outbreak safely.
“Significant work has been undertaken on-site to ensure all relevant and necessary supports are in place and that all relevant cleaning protocols have been followed.”
The local state MP, Labor minister Martin Foley, has been made aware of the matter.
The Health Department has been assisting supported residential service providers with PPE and infection control planning as well as outbreak management as part of Operation Benessere, which included management of outbreaks at public housing towers.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.