Turning a children’s ward into a home away from home
The rain has eased and the little ones including a samanera, well on the road to recovery but still with their cannulae, are out at play in the lovely but a little muddy-in-parts garden.
Earlier we have seen a spacious toy house, all red, blue and white, with children sitting within and peering through the windows and doors.
No, it is not a children’s park but a hospital. We are at Ward 1, the 31-bed Paediatric Ward of the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital, Kotte.
From the time its new Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Mihira Manamperi took over last year, he and his dedicated team of junior doctors, nurses and support staff have striven to make the children’s stay here comfortable, while they overcome their illnesses. Of course, they have got the full support of hospital Chairman Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka, Director Dr. Rathnasiri A. Hewage and Deputy Director Dr. Chandragupta Ranasinghe.
This government-owned tertiary care institute set amidst sprawling gardens and long corridors with not a hint of any congestion like in most hospitals, thanks to well-thought of planning by this Japanese donation in 1984. Within its Paediatric Ward not only ill children from nearby Nugegoda, Maharagama, Pannipitiya, Kottawa, Thalawathugoda and Kotte are embraced but also from further away such as Avissawella and Kalutara.
With the children either coming into the ‘outpatients setting’, ‘in-ward setting’ or ‘private setting’, the recent data speak volumes. From May last year (2022), the number of children seeking admission each month has gone above 100, with a rise over 200 since October, closing in on 300 this year (2023) and a peak of 424 in May.
Since Dr. Manamperi took up duties, he has been on a quest to take the facilities available to a different level as he is a staunch believer that the Paediatric Ward can be on par and compete with any other in the state or private sectors.
He and his team have set about achieving this goal with determination. The ward and washrooms are clean, the paediatric medical clinic is well attended, the immunization clinic well patronized and with childhood diabetes looming as a major danger they are in the process of setting up an obesity clinic.
While they have also obtained two high-flow nasal oxygen machines and four multipara monitors from the Health Ministry, a hotline has also been established for the paediatric department.
Having already set up isolation cubicles to stop cross-contamination and spread of infection, Dr. Manamperi is bent on providing them with washrooms.
“It would be good to introduce vaccines available in the private sector at the immunization clinic here,” he says, adding that his dream is also to develop the garden areas which sandwich the ward, to give the children a feeling of being at home, even though it is away from home.
|Help get comfy chairs for the mothers|
|It is most often the mother who stays with her sick child in hospital and it is no different at Ward 1. The fathers have to go to work and also look after any other children who may be at home.“Help me get comfortable recliner chairs for the mothers in my ward,” is the heartfelt plea of Dr. Mihira Manamperi. |
As the Sunday Times toured the ward, it broke our hearts to see mothers sitting by their children’s bedsides in uncomfortable plastic chairs. Just imagine watching over a child with Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) sometimes as long as three-four days and nights, meticulously measuring the child’s fluid intake and urine output.
Even on the day we visited, some exhausted mothers were having a small shut-eye bent in two and resting their heads on the child’s bed.
It is seeing this pathetic sight – “mothers with painful swollen legs and utterly fatigued through sleep-deprivation” – that Dr. Manamperi’s thoughts went back to the time when he was working in New South Wales, Australia.
In his mind’s eye he saw once again recliner chairs where mothers could rest awhile.
Dr. Manamperi explains how some mothers have to keep working even when their children are ill, wedging their laptops uncomfortably to meet assignment deadlines. They also have no place to secure their valuables as the lockers cannot be locked.
This is why he is sending out an appeal for 31 recliner chairs and any other support that well-wishers can extend to them.
Please call the Paediatriac Ward Hotline:
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