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Workers offload mattresses at the step-down facility set up for recovering COVID-19 patients at Brooklyn Settlement, Sangre Grande, on Friday night. The facility was completed on Friday and 30-odd patients were moved there on Saturday.

Dejected. Resigned. Betrayed. Condemned.

This is how residents of Brooklyn Settlement, Sangre Grande yesterday described their feelings towards the decision by the Ministry of Health to relocate 30 recovering COVID-19 patients to a step-down facility in their area.

Under a tight security blanket on Saturday night, the patients were bused to an elderly care facility—Aging At Home (AAH)—at Bridge Road.

The large cohort arrived closed to midnight as many residents slept, escorted by soldiers and police officers who have continued to maintain a presence around the perimeter of the property.

Questioning why this high handed approach was taken even as they awaited word regarding the request for a virtual meeting with the relevant authorities to discuss their concerns before a final decision was made, the scared residents said the move is a clear signal that their views and wishes are not respected.

One man said, “We are now wondering if this is a case of party politics at play. That facility was vacant for some time, and suddenly, we hear it is to be used as a convalescent home for the COVID-19 people.”

It is unclear if and how much the owner is being paid per month for the use of the facility.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has admitted that the State is paying the Seventh Day Adventist Association $85,000 per month for the use of its’ facility, Camp Balandra, which was initially used to house 68 passengers who had returned from a cruise which had reported COVID-19 positive cases.

He has said some facilities will be provided free of charge, while the State will have to pay for others.

An elderly woman from Bridge Road expressed her feelings of despair as she said, “I feel very depressed because they take these people and bring them here…this is putting me at risk. We can’t do anything about it, we just have to accept it.”

A young woman living close to the AAH facility expressed concern, “We wanted to discuss all these things before anything was done.

“We asked for a meeting so these issues could have been addressed and the concerns of the residents especially the elderly ones, could have been dealt with. Why did they move the patients in so late at night? What is it that they don’t want us to see? What are they hiding?”