A legacy of healing
Dr. Ramya L. Premaratne, Co-ordinating Officer National Hospital of
Sri Lanka (NHSL) talks to the Sunday Observer about the 150th
anniversary commemorative publication of the national hospital, which
she compiled. The publication was launched at the hospital premises on
March 20 this year.
together a collection of articles and memorabilia that takes one deep
into the history of the country's premier medical facility is by no
means an easy or enviable task, not if you have been tasked with
completing the assignment along with your normal duties within the
hospital, in the space of just two months.
However, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Co-ordinating
officer of the NHSL, Dr. Ramya L. Premaratne was able to ensure the
tri-lingual commemorative opus was published even ahead of its very
short deadline - thanks to the co-operation she received from the
writers, hospital authorities, translators, printers.
To meet her tight deadline of two months, she had to, as she says,
"Badger specialists for their articles, send the History Committee to
our documentation centre to find old photos, cajole advertising agencies
into advertising with us to raise the funds for the publication, and
most difficult of all, get accurate translations for this tri-lingual
edition we were doing for the first time. As I had to do this with all
my normal duties of supervising various hospital projects, I am grateful
to the co-operation I received from the consultants, the hospital
director and the editorial board as well as several others who gave
their time ungrudgingly," she elaborates.
The result is an illuminating glimpse into the history of the
island's biggest medical facility treating thousand of patients (in
patients and out patients) from all parts of the country, free of
With messages from President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Seneratne, Director
General Health Services, Dr P.G. Maheepala, followed by hospital
Director Anil Jasinghe and several consultants, the book is rich in
memorabilia giving the reader rare and insightful glimpses with
accompanying photos, conjuring by gone era when medical history in
Ceylon was still in its infancy.
Dr. Premaratne is now looking forward to seeing many of the
Hospital's future plans, drawn by the Director NHSL, who she describes
as a 'visionary administrator who wants to elevate the NHSL to
international standards' come to fruition.
To mark the 150th
anniversary of the NHSL, the Sunday Observer will in the
coming weeks reproduce some of the articles written by
medical personnel directly involved with the hospital
administration, which reveal how a small health facility
established in 1864 in Pettah by the British, with just 100
beds rose in strength and size to become the country's
largest and leading landmark in health care.
"Dr Jasinghe has drawn up a five-year Strategy Plan, which includes
fifteen hospital development projects. They are being handled by the
150th Anniversary Secretariat which is under my purview," she says.
All these projects are aimed at giving the Hospital Square which
falls with a 36-acre block of land from Regent Street along Kynsey Road
to De Saram Place, the face lift it badly needs.
They include: A car park for vehicles for doctors, patients and
visitors to the hospital; Landscaping hospital surroundings with help
from the private sector; renovating all (85) wards in the hospital; and
an energy saving project to cut down soaring electricity bills,
introduction of battery driven electric transportation for inmates in
the hospital, to eventually replace wheel chairs and stretchers
currently the main mode of internal transport.
Also on the cards, is a training project for doctors, nurses and
other hospital staff.
"It will eventually encompass health facilities all over the island
once it gets fully underway, and will be conducted at the NHSL
Simulation Centre. Health worker including minor staff and voluntary
health workers, can participate in these programmes, which are free of
Trainers will be taught how to introduce a cannula in patients,
ventilate them when necessary, give CPR," Dr. Premaratne explains.
Under the proposed plans, a modern 'way finding' and signage system
is also to be introduced after inviting proposals.
Another priority is to develop a modern lab information system within
its complex, which will connect labs in every unit and section of the
hospital, which in turn will enable doctors to obtain information about
their patients' reports even after they have been transferred.
Once these development projects are fully implemented the NHSL will
be a Center of Excellence for quality health care, she notes.