Patients compelled to seek treatment at other hospitals
By Janaka de Silva
Residents of the area and the employees of the Elpitiya hospital expressed concern about the closure of the operations theatre, the CSSD Unit and the Premature Baby Unit located in the new four-storied building constructed at a cost of Rs. 4750 million by the AMRICARE organization of the US Government in 2009. Hospital employees pointed out that items worth millions of rupees had been left to the mercy of the elements. They said the three sections had been closed from the very inception due to the shortage of staff and that it resulted in hardship to thousands of patients from several areas including Elpitiya, Pitigala, Udugama, and Uragasmanhandiya areas who seek treatment at the Elpitiya Base Hospital.
In the case of emergency operations, the patients are transferred to Balapitya and Karapitiya hospitals. Residents of the area said when the hospital ambulance was not available they were compelled to transport the patients to other hospitals at their own expense. The delay of treatment due to the long journey endangered the patient with death in transit. The surgical equipment, electrical fittings, oxygen systems, air conditioners, and incubators are among the machinery and equipment that have been left to the mercy of the elements. A senior official of the hospital said the authorities who carried out inspections of the hospital were not concerned about the waste of public property in this manner. He said ten doctors including surgeons, 24 nurses, two laboratory technicians, and five labourers were required to ensure the smooth functioning of the operations theatre, CSSD unit and the Premature Baby Unit. He said the senior officials including the Southern Province Director of Health Services, Galle District Director of Health Services, and the Director General of Management Services, and the Hospital Superintendent, Elpitiya Base Hospital who met at the Management Development and Planning Unit of the Health Ministry on Nov. 23, 2010 decided to fill the vacancies in the approved cadre, but the Finance and Planning Ministry had not yet approved the proposal. Meanwhile, Hospital Superintendent Dr. (Mrs.) Asantha Jayawardena who refused to give an interview to the media on the issue said she submitted a report on the shortcomings to the relevant authorities.