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18th July, 1999

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Building in need through deeds

Begun on the initiative of doctors, lawyers, architects and engineers, the Kandy Hospital will get a new four-storey building. A Rs. 300 million project raised through public donations

By Udena R. Attygalle

" I shall pass through this world but once,therefore if there is any good I can do to my fellow beings, let me do it now. Let me not defer it nor postpone it for I shall never pass through this world again".

A Rs 300 million project. All with funds raised through donations?

The new building at the Kandy General ( Teaching ) Hospital where work is to be completed by September this year, is such an endeavour.

Kandy, has the second largest teaching hospital in Sri Lanka. Strategically situated in the centre of the island, this 1750- bed hospital serves as a tertiary referral centre for over three million people living in five of the nine provinces. It has over 3000 employees and provides services in almost all the surgical and medical specialities.

At present, the hospital lacks a paediatric unit and the six-bed nephrology unit is totally inadequate to serve the large number of patients suffering from renal diseases. It is with the hope of rectifying these shortcomings that the project was started.

Begun on the initiative of a few dedicated professionals including doctors, lawyers , architects and engineers in Kandy, the project got off the ground in January last year thanks to the efforts of the mercurial director of the Kandy Hospital A.M.L Beligaswatte.

The new four-storey building designed free of charge by architect Gamini Dissanayeke will accommodate 310 beds. Two floors will be taken up by a children's unit and the next two floors have been allocated to the new nephrology unit (which will be the first of its kind in the country ) and a unit for service personnel. The building will have four operating theatres , a play area, OPD's, two intensive care units, a laboratory, and also an auditorium.

The kidney transplant unit will have a total of 18 haemodialysis machines (machines that are used to purify the blood) and a twin operating theatre ( a modular one), where as one patient's kidney is removed in one theatre , it is transferred to another patient in the adjoining theatre.

The unit hopes to accommodate the 500 odd waiting list of patients seeking haemodialysis treatment .The largest number of kidney patients are reported from the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Ampara areas and many face an early death for lack of facilities.

The whole modular operating theatre itself is a pre fitted apparatus made in Malaysia costing in the region of Rs 50 million plus.

Later it is hoped to have facilities that would allow people who need dialysis to get hooked up to a machine at night and leave for work in the morning.

Dr Beligaswatte says it is of prime importance that the Kandy Hospital be developed because of its central location and easy accessibility for patients from the different provinces.

He pointed out that if quality medical treatment is to be provided to the people of the area that the hospital is located in, then there should be parallel development of hospitals in other parts of the country so that patients do not flock to central hospitals. He pointed out the Colombo national hospital as an example where quality treatment had to give way to quantity.

It is also hoped to establish satellite Haemo- Dialysis Units at the General Hospital Anuradhapura and Base Hospital Polonnaruwa as an extension of the programme and to begin a fund in aid of kidney patients.

The first donation for the 93,000 sq-foot building was Rs 10 million from the National Defence Fund, initiated by General Anurudha Ratwatte .Schools in Kandy have also been active with Mahamaya College collecting nearly Rs 7 1/2 lakhs. Service personnel too have expressed their willingness to contribute a day's pay for the project.

Funds had also been collected by selling tickets. Dr Beligaswatte himself and Dr Thilak Abeysekara have stood in the rain near the Maligawa for this worthy cause.

The project has prompted donations from a wide spectrum of society: from millionaire businessmen to poor farmers. On the day we visited the hospital, an A/L qualified yet unemployed young girl from Anuradhapura had written in to ask how she could contribute.

Contributions could be sent to the Director, General Hospital Kandy. Cheques should be drawn in favour of: The Hospital Committee, General Hospital Kandy or Bank of ceylon A/C Number G.H.U. 606 and sent to the Director, General Hospital Kandy.

Details regarding donations can be obtained from the office of the Director of the Kandy Hospital. Tel. 08-222137.

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